On May 8, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) submitted its first-ever written evidence to the Parliament of the United Kingdom (UK) in support of the House of Commons International Development Committee (IDC) inquiry on the impact of the novel coronavirus. The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and IFES have partnered for many years to deliver good governance for growth, sustainability and inclusive development.
IFES’ evidence – drafted in consultation with field leadership and drawing upon its COVID-19 thought leadership – urged the IDC to consider the implications of the pandemic on elections, democracy and the global order in a time when the rule of law and fundamental rights are already under attack.
Reflections and recommendations for action include:
- Despite the undeniable urgency and immediate benefits of increased spending on global health and economic stimulus, diminished support for elections, democracy and governance will exacerbate the “long-tail” impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Traditionally marginalized populations are more likely to be negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. All COVID-19 programming must be accessible and inclusive and should prioritize the electoral and political rights of women, youth, displaced people and people with disabilities.
- Although the pandemic has increased interest in moving electoral and democratic processes online, there is an increased risk of cyber and malign foreign interference. DFID should prioritize programming that balances technological solutions with cybersecurity, integrity and the digital divide.
- COVID-19 responses must consider the follow-on impacts on local partners. Building local partner resilience to internal and external shocks is at the heart of IFES’ work. Partners are suffering and want to be part of the solution.
Read IFES recommendations to the Parliament of the UK’s House of Commons IDC.
IFES will continue to contribute its decades of expertise and unique field perspectives to critical donor conversations on the importance of effective electoral assistance in the wake of the pandemic.
For more on the global response to the pandemic, visit IFES’ COVID-19 Survival Guide for Democracies.
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