Peter Eicher talks about his involvement in the Bangladeshi election that was originally scheduled for January 2007 but was ultimately held in December 2008. He details the many challenges that led to the election being postponed, including prolific corruption, widespread electoral violence and significant problems with the Election Commission and dispute-resolution mechanisms. Eicher goes on to explain how the caretaker government rebuilt trust in the Bangladeshi electoral system between 2007 and 2008 by redoing the voter registry, fighting corruption across government and restructuring the Election Commission. He also highlights Bangladesh’s system of having an interim government assume power three months before an election, suggesting it as a potentially useful approach for other countries struggling with neutrality issues in the electoral process.
At the time of this interview, Peter Eicher was an independent consultant on elections, human rights and democracy. He worked for the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, heading elections missions, providing election advice and preparing handbooks and reports on elections in various countries. He started his career as a foreign service officer with the U.S. State Department. After retiring from the department, he took up the deputy director position at the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. In 2005 he began working with the U.N.’s Electoral Assistance Division, working first on the 2005 Iraqi elections and later on the 2008 Bangladeshi election.