Standing with Local Partners on International Anti-Corruption Day
Pervasive corruption erodes the credibility and legitimacy of electoral processes and democratic institutions – which in turn undermines effective governance. In observance of International Anti-Corruption Day on December 9, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is highlighting its global efforts to combat corruption in elections and political processes. In close partnership with election commissions, oversight bodies and civil society, IFES works to strengthen regulations and enforcement, improve transparency and build capacity to combat corruption in electoral and political processes.
Supporting Effective Anti-Corruption Measures in Central and Eastern Europe
In November, IFES kicked off its support to selected countries in Central and Eastern Europe to tackle anti-corruption commitments and recommendations made by regional initiatives, such as the Council of Europe's Group of States Against Corruption. The Effective Combat Against Corruption team is partnering with domestic stakeholders and influencers in Bulgaria, Romania and Montenegro to identify, prioritize and effectively implement anti-corruption reforms, focused in particular on political finance, judicial integrity and the criminalization of bribery. IFES is implementing the project in partnership with the Central and Eastern European Law Initiative in Prague, and the initiative is funded by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
Providing Technical Assistance to the Control, Oversight, and Accountability Unit of Guatemala's Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE)
Building the TSE’s capacity to address illicit campaign financing is integral to Guatemala's fight to reduce corruption in politics. IFES supports the TSE’s efforts to address corruption and influence the electoral process through enforcement of the 2016 Law on Elections and Political Parties, including the development of a targeted training plan for TSE staff. A clear priority is tailored curricula for the Control, Oversight, and Accountability Unit on political party finance regulations, internal control of political parties and analysis of the accounting records of political parties.
Supporting Civil Society in Ukraine to Monitor Political Party Financing
IFES is supporting a leading Ukrainian civil society organization (CSO), Centre UA, to develop and implement a methodology for monitoring political party financial reports and the performance of state oversight bodies. Centre UA recently published an article that provides an overview of the income of all parliamentary parties, as well as several articles discussing the financing of regional party organizations in different oblasts of Ukraine. In cooperation with the Centre for Policy and Legal Reforms, Centre UA has also started analyzing the existing legal framework regulating political finance and developed recommendations in Ukrainian for improving the political party financial reporting form.
In Indonesia, IFES is working with civil society partners on a study analyzing political party funding and political finance issues during election campaigns to identify options for policy reform. The study explores the relationship between political finance and political corruption, which is pervasive among elected officials at all levels of government. Among other things, the study proposes that the high cost of engaging in political activity and the weak regulatory regime make politicians dependent on a small class of wealthy donors and creates powerful incentives for corruption, and notes that the status quo places women and other candidates from non-traditional backgrounds who do not have access to patronage networks at a disadvantage.
In Nepal, IFES partnered with the CSO Samuhik Abhiyan to conduct a pilot campaign finance monitoring mission for the 2017 House of Representatives elections. IFES is supporting the ECN to design and implement a publicly accessible campaign finance tracking system, which will record spending data and support the ECN’s efforts to sanction parties and candidates who violate spending limits.
Technical Assistance in Support of Political Finance Oversight in Libya
Building on our work on political finance in the Middle East and North Africa, IFES will support Libya’s High National Elections Commission and Central Committee for Municipal Council Elections to establish sustainable mechanisms for reviewing post-election financial reports from candidates. IFES will also work with civil society, including its Democracy Resource Centers located in various regions throughout Libya, to develop the capacity of CSOs to monitor and report on political activities independently of the political candidate disclosure.
Preventing Abuse of State Resources Across the Globe
As explored in the IFES white paper Unfair Advantage: The Abuse of State Resources in Elections, ruling political parties and incumbent politicians often leverage their positions to gain an electoral advantage. The abuse of state resources (ASR) in elections not only threatens a level playing field, but it acts as a central component in cycles of entrenched government corruption. Politicians who win elections by harnessing the power of the state have an incentive to “pay back” the services rendered – through civil service employment, favorable procurement contracts, and other means – and prevent reforms that would curtail corrupt practices.
IFES recognizes that ASR is a fundamental threat to the fairness, legitimacy and credibility of electoral processes globally. As such, IFES undertook an extensive research initiative to develop a rigorous methodology aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of legal frameworks in addressing ASR. Using the methodology, IFES has conducted assessments and made technical recommendations accounting for capacity, context and political will in Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
A shortened companion document, focused on abuses of state personnel, state funds and physical resources, and official government communications, is tailored for advocates seeking to better inform their approaches to ASR monitoring and reform. IFES recently hosted a workshop in Prague with citizen observers from the Western Balkans and discussed how this framework and other observation tools can be used to gain a comprehensive understanding of a country’s ASR challenges.
IFES’ programming supports efforts to monitor and prevent ASR around the world. For example, IFES has supported civil society in monitoring ASR in Georgia since 2010 and also developed a “Memorandum on the Use of Administrative Resources in the Election Campaign” in 2010 that was endorsed by civil society, the election commission and political parties, and has since been renewed several times. In Ukraine, IFES supported campaign finance and ASR monitoring in the 2015 mid-term parliamentary and local elections. IFES initiated a long-term monitoring project through a local civil society organization focused on ASR ahead of the 2019 elections and has initiated ground-breaking partnerships with the Ukrainian Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education and Science focused on aiding these ministries in protecting their resources from abuse during the pre-election and election periods.