Since the 1990s, there has been a movement away from viewing elections and electoral assistance as one-off events, towards viewing them as an integral component of democratic transition and governance. Much of the literature notes that whilst electoral assistance has generally been successful in establishing and promoting the technical aspects of elections, such technical interventions are insufficient for good governance and democratisation. More attention must be paid to longer-term institutional and capacity development. As such, the UNDP and EC endorse the new ‘Electoral Cycle Approach’. The focus on capacity building extends not only to recipient countries but also to donors – to share and learn lessons and best practices; and to better coordinate their interventions.
There are additional considerations for electoral assistance in ‘fragile’ and post-conflict countries. Important elements of programmes in these contexts include:
- support for broad-based programmatic political parties
- allowing sufficient time for voter education
- election observation
It is also important to be sensitive to local socio-cultural settings in all interventions, in order to promote local ownership and sustainability. This helpdesk research report includes literature that focuses on election experiences in Cambodia, Afghanistan, Palestine, Mozambique, Nigeria and Madagascar.