Europe and CIS Regional BRIDGE Workshop on Electoral Systems

21 September 2011

Within the GPECS Europe and CIS component, the UNDP’s Democratic Governance Group of the Bureau for Development Policy (DGG/BDP) and UNDP Bratislava Regional Center (UNDP BRC) in cooperation with UNDP/Turkmenistan has organized a five-day Europe and CIS Regional BRIDGE Workshop on Electoral Systems for UNDP country office staff and representatives of Electoral Management Bodies (EMB) from Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region.

This five-day workshop was intended to introduce BRIDGE to UNDP staff in country offices and representatives from their respective EMBs the main principles and concepts of Electoral Systems. The workshop also aimed at forging ties between UNDP country offices and EMBs for future cooperation.

The Regional Electoral Systems’ workshop was conducted in Russian language and facilitated by BRIDGE expert facilitator Natia Kashakashvili and BRIDGE workshop facilitator George Sharabidze from 12 to 16 September, 2011 in President Hotel, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. 24 representatives from six countries (Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan) and 2 representatives of UNDP GPECS attended the workshop.  (Due to sudden death of the chairman of the Central Commission of Armenia, the Armenian delegation cancelled the visit; our sincere condolences to all at CEC Armenia.)

The workshop was opened by Begench Yazliyev (Programme Specialist on Democratic and Economic Governance) on behalf of UNDP Turkmenistan and UNDP Resident Representative in Turkmenistan Mr. Lenni Montiel via the video message; Mr. Montiel greeted the participants and wished all the participants successful conduct of the workshop.

The workshop Agenda was tailored so the participants could become aware of all the electoral system families using the simulations (mock polling and mock counting) for each system; understand the Elements (district magnitude, ballot structure and electoral formula) of Electoral System for specific systems; figure out advantages and disadvantages of each electoral system in depth and each families in broad-spectrum; realize the usage of the electoral systems through the country based case studies and analyze the electoral system design principles.

Participants, especially those who were new to electoral systems, showed extreme interest towards the topics presented and through evaluations praised the significance of mock simulations. Participants realized the advantage of BRIDGE methodology and facilitation process and mentioned willingness to instill the methodology in their work. Regarding the major learning result of the module participants noted “there is no ideal system; the more fair electoral system – means more complicated electoral system”; “we have learnt to distinguish the electoral systems by its structure and effectiveness. I am glad I am capable to analyze and project electoral system for my country”.

In general the workshop went in a pleasant atmosphere, filled with lots of energizers, which helped the participants to form as a team; all the participants enjoyed interaction with the colleagues from the other countries and noted the importance of knowledge/experience sharing within the EMBs of the region. Therefore during the evaluations participants noted the need of continuation of such regional workshops, namely the need on the regional workshop on Voter Registration. Representatives of those countries who are new at BRIDGE (e.g. Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan) expressed the interest of implementing BRIDGE in their countries on national level.

The workshop (including the hosting the guests from different countries) was organized on top level for which special thanks to the UNDP Turkmenistan team. Also special thanks to UNDP Bratislava Regional Center and UNDP New York representatives for extended support in preparation of the workshop.

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