2011 was a year of historic elections. From the referendum that brought independence to South Sudan, to the first free and fair elections in Tunisia and the first legislative election in 10 years in Cote d’Ivoire, the year was full of important polls and milestones for democracy.
Côte d'Ivoire held its first legislative elections in more than a decade on December 11. These elections will usher in the first democratically elected parliament since 2005, when the mandate of the parliament elected in 2000 expired. The elections are considered to be another step toward reconciliation for the West African nation.
On November 28, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) held presidential and legislative elections. IFES has been working in the DRC for over a decade, most recently with programs aimed at tackling corruption and building the capacity of civil society.
On November 28, Egyptians began voting in the first parliamentary elections since the January 25 revolution. November 28 marked the beginning of Phase I of the People’s Assembly elections; Phases II and III are set to take place in December and January, respectively. Voting for the Shura Council will commence on January 29 and end on March 11, also taking place in three phases.
On 6 November, Guatemala held the runoff for its presidential election. The poll that was eventually won by Otto Pérez Perez Molina, a retired army general from the Patriotic Party (Partido Patriota, PP), had a record turnout for a second round vote. It also ushered in the first female vice president of Guatemala as both presidential candidates had a woman for a running mate.
Tunisia held the country’s first free and fair election on 23 October. Millions of Tunisians went to the polls to cast their ballots for the National Constituent Assembly, which will have one year to write a new constitution. Excitement was high as the country that ignited the Arab Spring was also the first of those countries to hold an election.
On 11 October, Liberia held its second election since the conclusion of the bloody civil war that lasted from 1999 to 2003. The first round of the presidential election featured 16 candidates, including incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. IFES staff visited a number of polling stations.
IFES’ Women’s Leadership program, conducted in five provinces across Cambodia the spring of 2011, sought to increase women’s personal development and leadership skills and knowledge of the election process. During the week of 14-21 September, some of the participants joined IFES staff in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to discuss what they have learned.
In an effort to increase awareness and knowledge on the 23 August constitutional referendum that was held in Liberia, IFES and 18 civil society organizations (CSOs) launched an extensive civic and voter education campaign.
Manatt served as Chairman of IFES’ Board of Directors from 1993 to 1999 and was a distinct leader, with unwavering commitment to spreading democracy around the world and helping those who are less fortunate. He touched the lives of many, mentoring and befriending people at every stage of his distinguished career and with a keen interest in nurturing future political and business leaders.