Kyrgyzstan Political Processes Program: IFES

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Father teaches his son why he should vote. This PSA was produced by alumni of Democracy Camps supported by IFES.
Father teaches his son why he should vote. This PSA was produced by alumni of Democracy Camps supported by IFES.
IFES / USAID

Project Duration: 2016 – 2021

Budget: $10 million (for the Consortium)

Implementing Partner: International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)

Key Partners: Central Election Commission; State Registry Service; Ministry of Education

Activity Locations: Nationwide

Under this program, IFES aims to strengthen the professionalism and capacity of election administrative bodies and increase the civic knowledge and engagement of young people in the Kyrgyz Republic.

MAJOR FOCUS AREAS

This Kyrgyz Republic Political Process Program (KPPP) is implemented by all three members of the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS): The International Republican Institute (IRI), The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI).

This Kyrgyz Republic Political Process Program (KPPP) is implemented by all three members of the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS): The International Republican Institute (IRI), The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI).

IFES’s program activities include:

  • Supporting the Central Election Commission (CEC) in planning, improving electoral laws and procedures, registering voters and improving voter experience on Election Day. It also includes training of electoral management bodies, and improving outreach and communication to voters;
  • Advocating for changes to increase participation of marginalized populations in the voting and political process in partnership with the CEC.
  • Educating young voters and encouraging citizens to be more active through Democracy and Civic Engagement Camps, Election Schools, youth forums, public advocacy initiatives and other interactive tools and activities.

RESULTS AND ACHIEVEMENTS

Since 2016, IFES has worked with election management bodies in Kyrgyzstan to strengthen them as professional organizations. In partnership with the Central Election Commission (CEC), Center for Civic Education and the State Registry Service (SRS), IFES has trained 1444 election officials at all levels. The training participants learned about best practices in voter registration, administration of the voting process, election results reporting, providing voter education, enfranchising persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups, and adjudicating election disputes and violations. This also includes training of SRS and CEC officials in the proper use and maintenance of the biometrical voter identification equipment, improving and maintaining the voter registry. These training sessions helped to prepare thousands of people to conduct major electoral events like the 2016 constitutional referendum and the presidential election in 2017.

As part of this program, IFES helped to improve a number of election laws in Kyrgyzstan. The recommendations provided by IFES contributed to clear division of responsibility between the CEC and the SRS regarding management of the voter registry, improved procedures for accommodating special needs voters, clear regulations regarding Election Day operations and determining procedures to introduce new election equipment to identify voters by their biometrical data.

IFES has initiated political finance work with the CEC, Parliament and other stakeholders as part of the Political Party Reform Working Group. Transparent and accountable systems of political finance that enhance the integrity of the political process and ensure a level playing field for parties and candidates are important for emerging, consolidating, and established democracies. Clearly defined and enforced regulations may reduce competitive advantages for wealthier candidates, quell vote buying and the abuse of state resources, and increase public confidence in the political system. Working with international and local experts, IFES held a series of roundtables and released several analytical papers outlining recommendations and good practices on the topic. As a result, IFES representatives supported the development and submission of a new law on political parties related to improved political finance procedures and campaign finance within the Jogorku Kenesh. As of November 2020, the bill has gone through the second reading in the Parliament. In this regard, IFES held introductory session for civil society on campaign monitoring mechanism. IFES continues to work collaboratively with civil society and media on election-related matters.

IFES is working with CEC and other organizations to improve participation of voters with disabilities in elections. As part of this program, IFES conducted an audit of over 2,300 polling stations to identify gaps that prevent participation of people with disabilities. IFES helped Territorial and Precinct Election Commissions develop procedures for accommodating special needs voters. In order to raise public awareness about this issue, IFES produced a video titled “Ramp Upgrade” in 2018, which received broad public response. These efforts had a more lasting effect and contributed to the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by the Kyrgyz Parliament in March 2019. IFES will continue to support the civic education of voters with disabilities through the creation and dissemination of tailored informational campaigns to help persons with disabilities understand their rights.

IFES continues to educate young people on being active citizens through Democracy Camps that first started 21 years ago. These camps provide students with leadership and motivation to become decision-makers in their communities and country. Throughout these years more than 3,000 students participated in the Democracy Camps and learned about government, volunteerism, media literacy and other important subjects. Democracy Camps has led to creation of other initiatives that unite young people around different issues. Participants of these initiatives are united into a network consisting of more than 3,000 members.

In 2018, IFES launched Election Schools for young activists, a three-day series of trainings with sessions devoted to political rights and freedoms, electoral processes, rule of law, gender equality, leadership, civic engagement, community service and project management. Election school model provides the necessary tools and knowledge to ensure that young people have a meaningful voice in political processes which can subsequently improve outreach to other population groups and lead to a better decision-making for the development of sustainable and socially just policies, with a focus on increased participation, influence, and representation of women and people with disabilities in political processes and governance structures. Since its inception, more than 250 young aspiring leaders from all regions of Kyrgyzstan took part in Election Schools. Among other informal voter education activities, IFES organized Media Labs, Quiz Nights, mock elections, public lectures in universities. IFES’s work with young adults and adolescents as part of the formal education system and through informal activities contributes to a growing, civically aware and motivated population of citizens under age 29.

As part of the Political Processes Program, IFES has supported the development of formal civic education for young persons in Kyrgyzstan. This work includes development of a civics textbook for high school students and a sourcebook for teachers at high schools. They were distributed in 2227 schools across the country. In 2018-2019 school year, IFES piloted a civic education textbook for students of vocational schools and has also trained teachers from eight schools on how to work with students with disabilities. In 2020, IFES began the development of a university-level civic education course.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, IFES has adjusted its work modalities and continues implementing its activities in hybrid manner.

Last updated: July 12, 2021

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