election schedules

Rupert Roopnaraine

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Focus Area(s)
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8
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Rupert Roopnaraine
Interviewee's Position
Co-Leader
Interviewee's Organization
Working People's Alliance
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Guyanese
Town/City
Georgetown
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Rupert Roopnaraine discusses his role in the Constitutional Reform Commission in Guyana. He details the challenge of recommending reforms to better balance power in a government that was constitutionally highly centralized on the Office of the President and the difficulty of dealing with a government reflexively resistant to electoral reform. He touches on the question of proportional representation, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the system, why he believes removing the proportional representation system is a necessary first step in reforming the quality of parliamentary conduct and productivity, and why he believes a first-past-the-post system is better for local government. Roopnaraine discusses the commission’s strategies to address high ethnic tensions exacerbated by racialization of political parties and outlines the commission’s success in putting together an Elections Commission that was acceptable to both incumbent and opposition parties. He lays out the events around Guyana’s failed 1997 elections that led to the formation of the Constitutional Reform Commission and political difficulties in Guyana at the time of the interview. He also discusses progress made on the rights of indigenous people, the reasons why many reforms were never fully implemented, and the challenges of putting together new voter registration lists.
 
Profile

Rupert Roopnaraine was a co-leader of the Working People's Alliance in Guyana, a group he joined in 1979. He served as a member of Parliament from 1995 to 2000 and on the Constitutional Reform Commission in 1998.  He also was a member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, special select committees on the Integrity Bill and on the Trade Union Bill, and the Public Accounts Committee. He also was a member of the Commonwealth Observer Missions for elections in Uganda, Zimbabwe and Zanzibar. At the time of this interview, he was program director of the Guyana Citizens’ Initiative.  He received his doctorate in comparative literature from Cornell University, and he taught at the University of Guyana, Cornell, and Columbia University in various capacities.

Full Audio File Size
80 MB
Full Audio Title
Rupert Roopnaraine Interview

Managing the Political and Practical: Nepal's Constituent Assembly Elections, 2006-2008

Author
Michael Scharff
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform
Abstract
Appointed chairman of Nepal’s Election Commission in October 2006, Bhojraj Pokharel faced an uphill battle. One month after his appointment, a peace agreement between major political parties and Maoist rebels ended a 10-year conflict and set the stage for elections to a Constituent Assembly that would write a new constitution. An interim government would choose a new electoral system and set the rules for the contest. With the Maoists threatening to resume hostilities if the elections did not take place on schedule, Pokharel, a former civil servant with no previous experience managing elections, had to work quickly. His main goal was to ensure the elections were maximally inclusive, free of fraud and peaceful so as to avoid giving the parties reason to pull out of the electoral process or boycott the results and send the country back into chaos. Pokharel worked closely with the interim government, providing valuable information and counsel on electoral rules and requirements. He oversaw the updating of voter lists, hired poll workers and helped assemble a special police service. Political squabbling forced the commission to delay the elections twice, yet as the chief architect of the process, Pokharel managed to keep the parties engaged. In April 2008, Nepalese citizens finally went to the polls. Although there was violence during the campaign period and on election day, as well as reports of voting irregularities, the election strengthened the fragile peace. The Maoists joined the government, and democratically elected representatives began the difficult task of drawing up a new constitution. In 2012, the peace continued to hold even though persistent disagreements in the Constituent Assembly had stymied efforts to produce a constitution.
 
Michael Scharff drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Kathmandu, Nepal, in December 2010 and using an interview conducted by Rushda Majeed in July 2011. Case published in June 2012. Most ISS case studies rest on large numbers of interviews. This case study was informed in large part by an interview with Bhojraj Pokharel, who served as chief election commissioner of the Election Commission of Nepal from 2006 to 2008.
 
Associated Interview(s):  Neel Kantha Uprety

Benedict van der Ross

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Focus Area(s)
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7
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Amy Mawson
Name
Benedict van der Ross
Interviewee's Position
Commissioner, 1994 Elections
Interviewee's Organization
Independent Electoral Commission, South Africa
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
South African
Place (Building/Street)
City Lodge Hotel
Town/City
Johannesburg
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Ben van der Ross discusses his role as one of the 11 South African commissioners who served on the country’s Independent Electoral Commission in 1994. He traces the story of the election from the commission’s first meeting in December 1993 through to the election’s closing moments, when problems with vote-counting procedures threatened to derail the country’s transition to democracy. He outlines the many challenges the election commission faced including deep mistrust across the political board, a very tight time frame, continuing party negotiations over the electoral rules and the reluctance of one of the main parties to participate. Van der Ross highlights the vital role played by the commission’s chairman, Johann Kriegler.  He also discusses how the commission overcame logistical hurdles.  
 
Profile
Ben van der Ross was working at a South African social development agency, the Independent Development Trust, when he was nominated to be a commissioner for South Africa’s first fully inclusive elections in 1994. After the elections, van der Ross pursued a career in the private sector.
Full Audio File Size
79MB
Full Audio Title
Ben van der Ross Interview

Howard Sackstein

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Focus Area(s)
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8
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Amy Mawson
Name
Howard Sackstein
Interviewee's Position
Coordinator, Investigations Unit: Gauteng Office, 1994 Elections
Interviewee's Organization
Independent Electoral Commission, South Africa
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
South African
Place (Building/Street)
Salcom Voice Services
Town/City
Johannesburg
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Howard Sackstein discusses the work of the Independent Electoral Commission’s Investigations Unit in 1994.  He outlines some of the challenges that the electoral commission faced that year, including a very limited timeframe, the logistical challenges of running elections in a largely rural country and the high levels of distrust and suspicion that permeated South Africa’s transition to democracy.  He also charts the many innovative aspects of the election, such as an electoral code of conduct that included serious sanctions, an effective voter education campaign, the use of professional mediators to settle local disputes and the establishment of party liaison committees.  He outlines some of the ingenious responses that individual poll workers displayed in the face of serious challenges.  He discusses the lessons the commission learned from 1994 and how commission staff drew from these lessons while preparing for the 1999 elections. 
 
Profile

South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission initially hired Howard Sackstein in February 1994 to investigate breaches of the electoral code of conduct in Mpumalanga.  Within a few weeks of joining the organization, he was promoted to coordinate the Gauteng office of the commission’s Investigations Unit, where he oversaw 36 lawyers.  After the 1994 elections, Sackstein was one of two people retained to shut down the operations of the temporary Independent Electoral Commission, before the creation of the permanent Independent Electoral Commission.  He played a key role in the 1999 elections.  In early 2010 he was running his own technology firm, Saicom Voice Services.

Full Audio File Size
144MB
Full Audio Title
Howard Sackstein Interview

Limakatso Mokhothu

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Focus Area(s)
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5
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Amy Mawson
Name
Limakatso Mokhothu
Interviewee's Position
Chairwoman
Interviewee's Organization
Independent Electoral Commission, Lesotho
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Lesotho
Place (Building/Street)
Independent Electoral Commission
Town/City
Maseru
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Limakatso Mokhothu discusses the challenges of organizing Lesotho’s first snap election in 2007.  She highlights the difficulties the Independent Electoral Commission faced due to the short timeframe, weaknesses in the voter registration process, inadequate technological capacity, and the lack of engagement with political parties before the poll.  Mokhothu talks about the disputes that emerged following the election, particularly surrounding informal party alliances, and the political difficulties the commission faced in deciding how to manage the problems that informal party alliances created.  
 
 
Profile

Limakatso Mokhothu was nominated by one of Lesotho’s main political parties to serve as an electoral commissioner in 2003.  She was one of three commissioners who oversaw Lesotho’s controversial 2007 election.  The following year she was appointed chairwoman of the commission.  Before joining the Independent Electoral Commission, Mokhothu worked on governance issues at the Irish consulate in Lesotho.

Full Audio File Size
65MB
Full Audio Title
Limakatso Mokhothu Interview

Shukri Ismail

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Focus Area(s)
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14
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Richard Bennet and Michael Woldemariam
Name
Shukri Ismail
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Somali
Town/City
Hargeisa, Somaliland
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Shukri Ismail discusses the formation and work of Somaliland’s first national election commission. She explains the difficulties the commission faced organizing Somaliland’s first elections, which included a difficult voter registration process, setting the election timetable and dealing with weak and newly formed state institutions and untested election law. Ismail also discusses the difficulties with political party formation, hiring and training election staff and the potential for violence when the commission ultimately determined the presidential election had been won by 80 votes. She also touches on working with international consultants, the electoral commission’s relationship with the media, the role of the clan in Somaliland’s elections, the lessons learned from Somaliland’s first elections and the challenges still ahead.

Case Study:  Nurturing Democracy in the Horn of Africa: Somaliland's First Elections, 2002-2005

Profile

At the time of this interview Shukri Ismail was the founder and director of Candle Light, a health, education, and environment non-profit based in Somaliland. She was the only female national election commissioner with Somaliland’s first National Election Commission.

Full Audio File Size
91.5 MB
Full Audio Title
Shukri Ismail Interview

Johnson Asiedu-Nketia

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Focus Area(s)
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13
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Ashley McCants
Name
Johnson Asiedu-Nketia
Interviewee's Position
General Secretary
Interviewee's Organization
National Democratic Congress, Ghana
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Ghanaian
Town/City
Accra
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Johnson Asiedu-Nketia discusses his role as head of the National Democratic Congress in Ghana’s Inter-Party Advisory Committee.  He describes how IPAC was able to introduce sophisticated voter registration systems and set an election schedule agreed upon by all political parties.  He also says that both IPAC and the Electoral Commission declined in effectiveness after 2000, which he attributes to lack of government support, reduced funding and an increasingly antagonistic relationship between IPAC and the commission.  He briefly touches on the role of the party in contributing to electoral transparency.    

Profile

At the time of this interview, Johnson Asiedu Nketia was general secretary of the National Democratic Congress in Ghana.  Prior to becoming head of the party, he was a member of Parliament for the NDC for 12 years.  He also served as deputy minister of food and agriculture.  Before entering politics, he worked as a bank manager.

Full Audio File Size
27 MB
Full Audio Title
Johnson Asiedu Nketia - Full Interview

Peter Eicher

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Focus Area(s)
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1
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Peter Eicher
Interviewee's Position
Elections Consultant
Interviewee's Organization
independent
Language
English
Town/City
Washington, DC
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

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.

Profile

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.

Full Audio File Size
37.1MB
Full Audio Title
Peter Eicher-Full Interview

Adan Yusuf Abokor

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Focus Area(s)
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5
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Richard Bennet and Michael Woldemariam
Name
Adan Yusuf Abokor
Interviewee's Position
Somaliland Country Representative
Interviewee's Organization
Progressio
Language
English
Town/City
Hargeisa, Somaliland
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Adan Yusuf Abokor discusses the relationship between civil society and the Somali National Movement during and directly following the Somali Civil War. He also focuses on Somaliland’s transition period from SNM government to civilian government. Finally, Abokor explains the successes and challenges of Somaliland’s elections and the formation of the multiparty system, with a focus on the role of civil society.    

Case Studies:  Navigating a Broken Transition to Civilian Rule: Somaliland, 1991-2001 and Nurturing Democracy in the Horn of Africa: Somaliland's First Elections, 2002-2005

Profile

At the time of this interview, Adan Yusuf Abokor was the Somaliland country representative for Progressio, an international development NGO. He formerly served as director of Hargeisa Group Hospital.

Full Audio File Size
100MB
Full Audio Title
Adan Yusuf Abakor Interview

Gocool Boodoo

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Focus Area(s)
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14
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Varanya Chaubey
Name
Gocool Boodoo
Interviewee's Position
Chief Elections Officer
Interviewee's Organization
Guyana Elections Commission
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Guyanese
Town/City
Georgetown
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Gocool Boodoo discusses his personal path to his position as chief elections officer of the Guyana Elections Commission, as well as his reflections on the institutionalization of practices, policies, and procedures that account for the relative success of the 2006 electoral process in Guyana. Boodoo notes the benefits of institutional memory with the implementation of a permanent staff for the commission and secretariat, and he highlights the importance of transparency at every level of the organization and every stage of the electoral process, from registration to voting day to declaration of results. The emphasis he places on technology for organizing and sharing information, including registration forms and polling results, reflects his feeling that electronic voting will be a reality in Guyana at some point in the near future. The roles of technology, particularly for the sharing of information internally and with regional organizations, are the central focus of the interview. He also stresses the importance of a valid electoral roll. The interview concludes with a brief discussion of constituency delimitation in the late 2009 local elections, including a proposal before Parliament of a mixed proportional representation and "first-past-the-post" system.

 

Profile

At the time of this interview, Gocool Boodoo was chief elections officer at the Guyana Elections Commission. He previously served in various public relations and administrative capacities at the commission. Prior to his work at the Commission, he was the head of the Department of Foundations and Administration of the School of Education of the University of Guyana. His initial work with the commission was in the preparation of training and policy manuals for electoral workers. After serving as deputy commissioner for administration, he became chief elections officer in 2001, and he supervised both the March 2001 and 2006 national elections.

Full Audio File Size
26 MB
Full Audio Title
Mr. Gocool Boodoo - Full interview