Elections are a cornerstone of democratic governance. Voting gives people a voice in the democratic process. It also provides a means to hold elected leaders accountable for their actions and policies.
Elections do not, however, begin or end on Election Day. Elections that reflect the will of people – and are also popularly seen as doing so – depend on far more than how voting day is run. The fairness, transparency and credibility of electoral processes depend on a complex interplay of electoral laws, rights, systems and institutions.
Since 1995, UNDP and the EU have been working together to assist countries throughout the whole cycle of electoral assistance – from the pre-electoral planning stage, through the polling period to the post-election period.
The partnership aims to ensure that elections are fully owned nationally and that elections provide a vital means to safeguard human rights, exercise choice and express opinions.
Throughout the partnership, UNDP and the EU have been involved in supporting the electoral cycle in 58 countries. In 2011 alone, the EU funded UNDP’s electoral assistance programmes with over EUR 66 million in Benin, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone.
One of the recent EU-UNDP joint operations on electoral assistance was the support given to the preparation of the parliamentary elections in Côte d'Ivoire in 2011. Following the 2010 Presidential election and the ensuing political crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, the efforts to ensure transparent, fair and calm parliamentary elections contributed to the stabilization of the democratic process and put an end to the Ivorian crisis.
On 23 October 2011 — the date of Tunisia’s first free and democratic elections — 76 percent of the country’s 4.1 million registered voters cast their ballots, with critical support from UNDP and the European Union.
In addition to the work done on the ground helping any specific country with their election cycle, the partnership also works on a more global level providing expertise and knowledge sharing through trainings, conferences, workshops and e-learning opportunities, election materials and services, and important publications (see the right menu on this page).
A gold standard voter list in Bangladesh
At the core of delivering free and fair elections is an accurate voter list. In Bangladesh, the controversial pre-2007 list was believed to contain over 12 million duplicate or erroneous names, known as ‘ghost voters,’ spurring allegations that vote rigging and other election irregularities would be commonplace.
Through the preparation of the electoral roll with photographs (PERP) project the Bangladesh Election Commission created a fresh, credible, biometric voter list and registered a record-breaking 81 million voters in 11 months, helping to make the election in 2008 a resounding success.
The stored biometric data and the identity cards that were handed out as part of the election registration process, now form the basis of a governement drive for a more permanent national ID-system, to enhance access to essential services.
The PERP project, run by the Bangladesh Election Commission and UNDP, is supported by the EU and other donors.
Source: UNDP Bangladesh; Empowered Lives. Resilient Bangladesh. Results achieved with our partners, 2006-2011
Zameer Akhtar, 28, participated in the electoral process for the very first time. Being a woman and living in a joint family in Pakistan, getting consent more
When Manuel Senduca, a 20-year old cleaner working for a private company in Luanda, headed to a polling station for the first time, he felt a great sense of responsibility. As a young citizen, voting gave him the chance to have a say in his country’s future. more
Sumaya Al Arounony, a second year student of informatics from the coastal town of Ben Arous in Tunisia, had never voted before. But, on the morning of 23 October 2011 that was not the only reason for her eagerness to vote. She was also a candidate and, at 22, one of the youngest on the list. more
"Lume, lume", "Voteaza, lume!". « People, people », « vote, people! ». Spurred by a campaign based on a popular folk song, the people of Moldova cast their votes during the early parliamentary elections on 28 November 2010. Thanks to the introduction of an advanced electoral system supported through a joint effort by UNDP and EU, this year’s voter turnout was higher than ever. more
Bernadette Ntumba, 61, travels with her new voter’s card everywhere she goes. “I always have it with me because it also serves as an ID,” she says of her card, issued at one of 8,163 registration centres set up by the independent National Electoral Commission through a project supported by UNDP, the EU and other donors, working together with the Congolese government. more
Joint Task Force
To effectively support the election cycle in countries, the EU-UNDP partnership on electoral assistance is anchored in a Joint Task Force on Electoral Assistance (JTF).
The JTF provides programming and technical support at country level, develops policy and knowledge, and provides training for election management bodies and other national actors - as well as for staff of the UN and the EU.
It also provides a platform to share best practices among a broad community of partners.
The JTF is formed by staff from the European Commission and UNDP and it is based in Brussels.
New operational paper and E-learning course on formulating and implementing EC-UNDP electoral assistance projects
The EC-UNDP Joint Task Force on Electoral Assistance (JTF) has launched a new Operational Paper with a focus on formulating and implementing electoral assistance projects in the context of the EC-UNDP partnership. This publication is accompanied by an eLearning course devoted to the same topic and available on the JTF eLearning portal.
These knowledge products aim to assist the staff of UNDP Country Offices and European Union Delegations on the design and formulation of electoral assistance projects and the administrative framework documents that govern that cooperation.
The JTF has launched a new e-learning course on technology and elections management on the JTF eLearning portal. The primary focus of the course can be summarized in the question: how can you determine if the technologies proposed for electoral management are sustainable and appropriate for the environment in which they are being considered?
The course should take between 4-6 hours to complete, and a certificate is available to all those that complete the course (following completion of the course exam modules).
Download Joint Task Force Publications
A workshop on ‘Information Technology and Elections Management: Informed decisions - sustainable outcomes' took place on in Mombasa, Kenya in 2012, co-organized by the JTF, in cooperation with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of Kenya.
Summary Report of the workshop on Election, Violence and Conflict Prevention, which was jointly organised by the EU and UNDP together with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and hosted by the Barcelona International Peace and Resource Centre (BICPR).
This slimmed down 2011 version of the guidebook updates previous versions prepared since 2005 by electoral specialists, advisors and staff of the EU, UNDP and International IDEA.
Assistance to elections in Georgia
TBILISI. 25 June 2012 – With the national parliamentary elections ahead, the European Union and UNDP are launching a new initiative to promote credible and sustainable electoral institutions in Georgia.
Supporting women's participation in Lebanon
Beirut, 3 July 2013 – In view of next year’s national elections in Lebanon, the UNDP Lebanese Elections Assistance Programme (LEAP) has organized an EU-funded workshop to strengthen women’s representation in the Lebanese Parliament.