The CEPPS Newsletter

Get important stories about elections around the globe. Delivered monthly.

Strengthening EMB Communications with Political Parties in Elections

PURPOSE

Election management bodies (EMBs) and political parties play important accountability roles in democracies. EMBs act as stewards of elections and political parties as key links between the government and the public. The relationship between these actors, however, can be inhibited by mistrust – particularly stemming from poor or inefficient channels of communication and engagement. EMBs largely lack access to comparative good practices to improve the ways they communicate with political parties and candidates. This guide contributes to filling this gap: it identifies factors that shape how EMBs currently engage and communicate with parties, compares practical examples with established principles in communication and stakeholder engagement, highlights common mechanisms used by EMBs around the world, and provides guiding questions and practical next steps. While EMBs are the primary audience intended for this guide, political parties, technical assistance providers who work with those parties and EMBs, and the broader electoral integrity community of practice should also find it useful.  

APPROACH

To address these issues CEPPS/IFES and CEPPS/NDI: 

  • Conducted broad desk research on EMB communication strategies through program reports, academic and practitioner publications, and relevant media articles.  
  • Analyzed public-facing EMB communication mechanisms targeted also at political parties. 
  • Selected countries for in-depth case studies and interviewed technical experts, EMB staff, and political party representatives in these countries to gather different perspectives on existing communication mechanisms and their strengths and gaps. 
  • Developed practical steps and recommendations for EMBs to maximize the value and impact of their mechanisms for communications and coordination with political parties. 
  • Outlined recommendations for political parties to take a more proactive role and make better use of EMB led communications mechanisms.  
  • Created a baseline assessment of operational environments for EMB political party engagement. 
  • Developed worksheets for monitoring and evaluating the extent to which existing EMB channels meet effective communication principles. 
DEPP LEARNING AGENDA ALIGNMENT
  • Theme: Inclusive Accountability through Checks, Balances, and Oversight across Independent and Government Institutions 
  • Question: 4.3 Under what conditions are interventions effective to safeguard the institutional integrity of Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) from politically motivated attacks?   

Insights from this technical leadership project: 

  • Interventions that help EMBs improve existing communication mechanisms or create new mechanisms to fill communication gaps with political parties can minimize room for misunderstanding and misinformation, build trust between these stakeholders, and reduce incentives for politically motivated attacks. 
  • As political actors are often the source or catalyzer of negative messaging targeting EMBs that is disseminated to voters, building trust between these stakeholders might also reduce the incentives for political parties to mobilize the public against election authorities. 
  • By complying with principles of effective communication such as transparency, impartiality, timeliness, accuracy and coherence, and accessibility in their engagements with political parties, EMBs can rely on evidence to prove integrity and weaken malign actors’ attempts to undermine their credibility. 

CORE QUESTIONS

  • What factors influence EMBs’ capacity and willingness to engage in communications with political parties?
  • What are some guiding principles for effective communication between EMBs and political parties? 
  • What communication mechanisms are often used? What are their main benefits and drawbacks? 
  • What practical strategies can EMBs employ to enhance communication and engagement with political parties? 
Funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Global  Democratic Elections and Political Processes Leader Cooperative Agreement.
Explore More Technical Leadership