The international community has worked diligently over the past 20+ years to promote electoral credibility through support to electoral reform, capacity building of electoral management bodies (EMBs), and voter education. However, those interested in subverting the electoral process have become increasingly sophisticated, with many electoral processes manipulated long before election day. To address these growing challenges an even stronger focus needs to be placed on the identification of stress points on electoral integrity and on actions that can be taken throughout the full electoral cycle. WFD established the Global Election Support Centre (GESC) to be able to provide the needed expertise to Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) staff and to develop new integrated approaches to support and safeguard electoral integrity throughout the electoral cycle.
At the start of the GESC in January 2021 activities were concentrated on analytical, training and guideline support, to develop a better understanding of the electoral environment, stakeholders, and pressure points on electoral integrity. Under the project WFD conducted three Electoral Political Economy Analysis missions (EPEA) in Morocco, Peru, and The Gambia. EPEAs allows for an analysis of the intersection of electoral, political, and economic processes in society and the distribution of power and wealth in civil institutions and the population and its impact on the electoral environmental processes. Further e-learning courses on electoral integrity and election observation were designed and guiding documents around electoral reform processes and an Options Paper on Election Observation election observation outlining several potential pathways for FCDO to develop the UK’s independent election observation capability developed.
The GESC served as 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.
Building on the previous work WFD is currently testing a bespoke election observation methodology through our Global Election Support Centre (GESC). On October 31st 2021, we launched a thematic election expert observation mission. This mission is observing the build up to the 2021 Gambia presidential elections taking place on December 4th. The WFD observation mission in The Gambia is conducting an in-depth analysis of the informal barriers women, young and first-time candidates, voters, persons with disabilities, and minority groups face in participating in democracy. It is also analysing specific aspects around media freedom and the impact that online and offline media coverage has on the elections and the ability of all citizens to participate in the process.
As part of the FCDO’s wider objective to promote open and free societies, WFD’s Global Election Support Centre is conducting further Electoral Political Economy Analysis in the Indo-Pacific (specifically Nepal, Fiji and The Philippines) and in Kenya. For The Philippines, a longer term Electoral Advisory Mission (EAM) is planned to provide both in-depth analysis and advisory support to the Embassy Following WFDs expert support to the Somaliland Elections in May 2021 and the Zambia Election in August 2021 the GESC will provide guidance and a new approach on how to address electoral recommendations, by election observation missions , to foster consultative electoral reform processes.
Through these electoral assignments, WFD is helping to deliver commitments made in the UK Government’s 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy to build UK capability to support international election observation and assistance.