by Alessandra Rossi and Andrea Rosario*
On August 15 and 16, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) held two Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) workshops on election observation in Mexico City in partnership with the Electoral Institute of Mexico City (IECM). BRIDGE is a modular professional development program with a particular focus on electoral processes. IFES signed a collaboration agreement with the IECM in June as part of the “Enhancing Citizen Participation in Mexico City” project, and the trainings in August aimed to build local capacity on election observation and strengthen the network of observers.
The training participants included electoral staff and authorities from the IECM’s General Council and civil society members from IECM’s Observation Network. IECM President Mario Velazquez Miranda; Counselors Myriam Alarcon Reyes, Carolina del Angel Cruz, Mauricio Huesca Rodriguez and Yuri Gabriel Beltran; and Executive Secretary Ruben Geraldo Venegas all participated, demonstrating the institution’s commitment to professional election observation and building national ownership of the BRIDGE project.
IFES Country Director for Guatemala Alessandra Rossi and international consultant Lluís Juan Rodriguez facilitated the workshops. They are both accrediting facilitators and conducted the first BRIDGE workshop in Mexico last year. Topics discussed during the course included key election observation concepts, observer typologies, international principles for democratic elections, the electoral cycle approach in election observation, election observation principles and code of conduct and reporting mechanisms in election observation initiatives. The training methodology was based on the BRIDGE participatory approach to adult learning and promoted group work, debates and continuous exchange among participants.
Current trends in Latin America and worldwide show that citizen election observation is becoming increasingly specialized and has developed a long-term focus throughout the electoral cycle, instead of focusing exclusively on elections. Furthermore, the 2012 Declaration of Global Principles for Nonpartisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organizations points out that the efforts of citizen observers should be guided by key principles, such as transparency, impartiality, independence, constructive recommendations, cooperation among observers and capacity building. The BRIDGE workshops aimed to promote professional and ethical behavior among observers from Mexico City and took inspiration from both the extended electoral cycle approach and the principles detailed above.
*Alessandra Rossi is IFES’ country director for Guatemala and Andrea Rosario is an IFES intern for the Americas.