Conducting credible elections, sustaining quality electoral processes over time, and demonstrating resilience in the face of a crisis requires not just competent management of the technical, operational, and logistical aspects of elections, but also effective leadership. Strong electoral leadership is essential to resolve protracted challenges that prevent meaningful electoral reforms, undermine the independence of the election management body, and subvert the electoral process. Based on three decades of work in the electoral sphere, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) recognizes a distinction between electoral management and electoral leadership and seeks to deliver focused, relevant, and high impact approaches to developing electoral leadership. Such efforts require a greater understanding of leadership theories and their application as well as balancing horizontal development (building electoral knowledge and skills) with vertical development (breaking out of habitual mindsets). This entails a process-oriented approach that extends beyond workshops into the workplace.
As a learning organization, IFES has an internal Knowledge Management Initiative Working Group on Electoral Operations and Leadership to help grow the research, tools and technical expertise we offer our partners worldwide.