The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) forges rich partnerships that tackle corruption and strengthen a culture of accountability between and among government, democratic institutions, the judiciary, civil society, private sector and the media.
Implementing Anti-Corruption Frameworks
Pervasive corruption undermines political, judicial and electoral processes. In turn, corruption within these processes can have political, security and economic implications. IFES partners with domestic stakeholders and influencers globally to identify, prioritize and create action plans to tackle anti- corruption reform and to encourage governments to implement their international, regional and national anti-corruption commitments in practice.
Professionalizing the Regulation and Oversight of Political and Campaign Finance
Transparent and accountable systems of political finance that enhance the integrity of the political process and ensure a level playing field for parties and candidates are important for emerging, consolidating and established democracies. For decades, IFES has empowered domestic groups to advocate for stricter compliance and regulatory reform; to provide oversight bodies with the tools to enforce political finance regulations; to bolster the capacity and will of political parties to ensure effective book-keeping, auditing and disclosure; and to support monitoring of political funding and spending.
Preventing the Abuse of State Resources
The abuse of state resources can derail the provision of government funds and other resources where they are needed most. IFES seeks to promote more effective safeguards to prevent unequal advantages from impacting elections through training for oversight bodies, the civil service and journalists; rigorous assessments; support to local civil society organizations engaged in monitoring and advocacy; legal and regulatory framework reform; and creating and maintaining partnerships with responsible government agencies.
Securing the Autonomy and Accountability of Independent Institutions
Independent governmental institutions established in the constitution or under the law are an essential part of the democratic fabric in many countries. While some – for example, anti-corruption agencies – are created to provide important oversight of government functions, mitigate corruption and increase transparency, others serve to insulate important democratic processes from political interference. When leveraged effectively, these institutions can bolster democratic systems. IFES’ evidence-based “Autonomy and Accountability Framework” supports institutions to protect various types of autonomy necessary to execute their mandate and three types of accountability measures to achieve public credibility and support.
Strengthening the Investigation and Prosecution of Election-Related Corrupt Practices
During elections, corrupt practices, such as vote buying and the abuse of state resources, can be used to influence voters and manipulate election outcomes. Once they win elections, politicians have access to government processes and resources to provide “kickbacks” to supporters as well as to enrich themselves and gain an unfair electoral advantage. Given the unique nature of election investigations, IFES has developed an Election Investigations Guidebook for investigators of both administrative and criminal violations, including corrupt behavior in elections. We also train judges and magistrates globally on hearing sensitive election cases, including those regarding allegations of corruption.
Civic Education for Democratic Governance
Civic education empowers citizens to participate more effectively in electoral and political processes and gives them the tools they need to hold their elected representatives accountable for effective governance. Through Strengthening Engagement Through Education for Democracy (SEED),IFES’ global university-level civic education methodology, IFES has worked with universities and education specialists to develop fully accredited university-level curricula. The SEED curricula introduce students to fundamental concepts of democratic citizenship, systems of government, civic participation and human rights, while building capacity through hands-on, real-world learning experiences.
Citizen-Government Engagement on Transparency, Integrity, and Accountability
Collective action against corruption requires reframing and restructuring the corruption prevention mission to be a fundamentally shared responsibility between all government actors and citizens. IFES supports advocacy by civil society actors as an essential mechanism for ensuring government accountability and enacting meaningful change. We also foster strong partnerships, feedback loops and constituent engagement to encourage effective service delivery and responsive governance free of corruption.
Connecting Government and Civil Society in Transparency Efforts
In Guatemala, IFES supported the cocreation and implementation of the Open Government National Action Plan (OGP, 2016-18) consisting of 22 commitments related to access to public information, technology innovation, citizen participation, accountability and fiscal transparency. IFES is also working with the OGP at a global level to formulate its approach to justice and accountability.