Elections

people queuing at a polling station
Elections

Elections are a core process within a democracy. They provide opportunities for important debate on the future of a country.

Elections that are free and fair help make sure everyone gets to have a say in how their society is run. Free and fair elections also help make sure everyone has the chance to influence change for the better. 

What is more, credible electoral processes increase the legitimacy of political institutions. They can also improve levels of trust in elected representatives. The voting process on election day affects the integrity of elections. Electoral integrity is also affected by how inclusive and representative the broader process is. 

WFD supports electoral integrity around the world. We do this by encouraging reforms that contribute to free and fair elections. We also organise election observation and conduct research on electoral reform. 

WFD offers support to partners at all phases of the electoral cycle: before, during and after the election period. We help countries to: 

  • Analyse the electoral environment  
  • Implement recommendations from election observation reports 
  • Provide technical advice  
  • Establish local election monitoring structures among civil society organisations and political parties 
  • Establish ways to include everybody in elections through education and laws 
  • Analyse the cost of politics by researching campaign finance legislation 
  • Prevent violence against women during elections 

To do this, we work with: 

  • election management bodies 
  • civil society organisations 
  • political parties 
  • the executive 
  • the judiciary 
  • legislative institutions (parliaments) 

We also engage with regional networks as well as supporting and promote south-south cooperation. 

Recent WFD activities in our elections portfolio include a UK Election Expert Mission to Kosovo which analysed the electoral process during the February 2021 snap elections in the country; a Limited Election Observation Mission to Somaliland (led by University College London and supported by WFD); and a citizen observation exercise by Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in North Macedonia which assessed the extent to which elections there were accessible to people with disabilities. 

The Global Election Support Centre 

The 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy (IR) commits to building a new UK capability to support election observation while strengthening existing multilateral efforts. WFD is supporting efforts to define the shape of the UK’s independent electoral observation capability. 

The Global Elections Support Centre (GESC) provides a resource hub for FCDO staff on electoral analysis, election observation and electoral reform, helping to deepen and refresh understanding in these technical areas across the network. 

Initiatives under the GESC include:  

  • E-training courses on election observation and electoral integrity.
  • Development of FCDO guiding documents on electoral observation and electoral reform.
  • Conducting Electoral Political Economy Analysis (EPEA) which examine the state of a country’s electoral integrity, risks of deterioration, and opportunities to strengthen it.
  • A Thematic Election Expert Observation Mission (TEEOM) to The Gambia for the December 4th 2021 election which focuses on media freedom and the rights and opportunities of women, youth, persons with disabilities, and other underrepresented groups to participate in the electoral process.
  • An Electoral Advisory Mission (EAM) on gender inclusivity in Albania.
  • Electoral reform work in Somaliland and Zambia. 
observers checking ballot counts

Election observation

On behalf of the United Kingdom, WFD recruits international election observers for OSCE observation missions and we carry out observation and advisory missions directly. WFD also provides regular training for both long-term and short-term observers.

A woman smiling at the camera

Our expertise

Tanja Hollstein - Senior Elections Adviser

Tanja Hollstein is an elections and democratisation expert with 16 years of relevant experience in post-conflict and transition countries.