Democracy is not inevitable and can be difficult to achieve and maintain. Elections are a core process within a democracy and provide opportunities for important debate on the future of a country.
Credible electoral processes increase the legitimacy of political institutions and can improve levels of trust in elected representatives. How transparent an election is, depends on the voting process on election day as well as how inclusive and representative the process is more broadly.
WFD’s new approach focuses on long-term change and will engage partners at all phases of the electoral cycle: before, during and after the election period. By using our unique resources and experience with parliaments, political parties and electoral management bodies, our programmes enhance the integrity and credibility of electoral processes in selected countries worldwide. Our work will be structured around the different actors at all stages of the electoral cycle: election management bodies, civil society organisations, political parties, the executive, judiciary as well as legislative institutions.
Electoral programmes will focus on: implementing recommendations from election observation reports, supporting the mitigation of conflict related to elections, helping to establish inclusive mechanisms to engage people in elections through education and legislation, preventing violence against women in elections and by conducting research on electoral reform
Initiating a constructive conversation among core groups and supporting agents for democratic reform through WFD country teams will be the main approach. This includes engaging with regional networks and supporting south-south cooperation.
Projects that include marginalised groups such as young people, women and persons with disabilities’ are important for increasing representation of minority groups and ensuring they are actively engaged in decisions about their future.
In Sierra Leone, WFD’s inclusive and peaceful elections programme worked in partnership with government, political parties and local civil society organisations as part of the Standing Together for Democracy consortium, to engage youth, women and vulnerable groups in the March 2018 general election.
From developing election manifestoes with representatives from 14 political parties, to the launch of a National Agenda to involve people living with disabilities in the elections in partnership with the Sierra Leone Union on Disability Issues (SLUDI), a nationwide outreach tour in nine districts to promote tolerance and educate about politics in partnership with Community Agenda and a National Youth conference, were all ways we engaged different communities during the pre-election period.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, WFD in partnership with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung supported the training of political party polling agents to provide local partners with the skills needed to support a credible electoral process.
The role of money in politics and elections is a major issue for those trying to support sustainable democratic development across the world.
Money might not guarantee electoral success but electoral success rarely comes to those with very little money. WFD’s research on the cost of politics examines the cost of running for office as well as for nomination and those faced during the time in office. The significant costs involved with running for office have a disproportionate impact on marginalised groups like young people and persons with disabilities, who along with women, are often excluded from the outset.
In addition to the growing number of initiatives to support the integrity of electoral processes, WFD is the public body responsible for the recruitment and selection of UK election observers for European Union Election Observation Missions (EOMs), and one of the service providers for OSCE/ODIHR missions. WFD also provides regular training for both long-term and short-term observers.
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