Tunisia held its first democratic election on Sunday, lighting the way for nations experiencing the Arab Spring and others hoping to see democratic reforms take root within their government. The turnout was high, as citizens were eager to vote for the National Constituent Assembly (NCA), a body tasked with writing a constitution within the next year.
After years of struggle and conflict, elation permeates South Sudan as it commemorates its independence on July 9, 2011. From Juba, Parvinder Singh, IFES’ Acting Country Director in Sudan, tells us of the independence celebrations, the challenges that lie ahead for the world’s newest country, and how South Sudan can solidify its democracy.
Election experts often move to different countries for their work. Sometimes they are lucky to return to some of their favorites, as has been the case for Staffan Darnolf, IFES Chief of Party in Zimbabwe, who lived in the Southern African country in the 1990’s.
Chiefs of Party are elections experts who sometimes agree to work on projects in countries they have never visited, as was the case for Robert Patterson, IFES Chief of Party in Cambodia. He arrived in Phnom Penh knowing he would live there for two years, running IFES’ women's leadership program and civic education programs.
While electoral complaints adjudication does not often garner as much attention as the casting of ballots, it is a crucial a part of the elections process. After all, the legitimacy of an election, and by extension public confidence in democratic institutions, depends in part on the way countries resolve election disputes and complaints.
In January, Kazakhstan's Constitutional Court ruled against a bid backed by the country's parliament to bypass next year's presidential election and hold a referendum to extend President Nursultan Nazarbayev's term until 2020.
On November 28, Haiti will have the first round of presidential and parliamentary elections. These polls will determine who will be the country’s next president before the current government’s tenure expires in early February 2011. It will also allow for the replacement of a third of the Senate and the entire House of Representatives whose term expired last May.
After decades of dictatorship and military rule, Guinea is on the verge of becoming a true democracy. The last remaining hurdles on its path to legitimate elections are corrections that must be made to the electoral system before the presidential runoff.
Earlier this year, Nigeria held the world’s attention with the illness and subsequent death of President Umaru Yar'Adua. After his passing, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan assumed the presidency. In January 2011, the tenure of the current presidency will expire and Nigeria will hold presidential elections to elect the country’s next leader.