Johann Kriegler traces the fascinating story of South Africa’s post-apartheid election, the country’s first fully inclusive democratic poll. As head of the newly formed Independent Electoral Commission in 1994, Kriegler was at the heart of the process. He details the challenges the commission faced in the early months of 1994. Chief among these were a tight timeframe, the absence of a voters roll, the high level of mistrust that permeated South African politics at the time, and the weight of public expectation. Kriegler outlines how the commission tackled these challenges, and he highlights several innovative approaches along the way. He describes the vital roles played by the commission’s monitoring directorate, the party liaison committees, and Operation Access, a program that helped parties campaign in areas that were otherwise out of reach. He explains how key players were brought into the electoral process, often at the last minute, and stresses the important role that determined political will played in the ultimate success of the elections.
Johann Kriegler was chairman of South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in 1994. Before he was appointed to the IEC, Kriegler was an Appeals Court judge. After 1994, he worked as an adviser in various sensitive electoral processes around the world. He chaired the commission investigating the violence that erupted following the Kenyan elections of 2007, and he served on Afghanistan’s U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission in 2010.