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Confidence in elections and the acceptance of results

Confidence in elections and the acceptance of results

A policy brief of the Electoral Integrity Initiative

In a series of discussions in the period 2013-2015, a core group of the Electoral Integrity Initiative, meeting under the auspices of the Kofi Annan Foundation, undertook to further develop the notion of public confidence in elections, with a view to offering practical guidance to those involved in international electoral assistance and conflict prevention. It pursued this through the lens of the respective behaviour of winners and losers in an election, particularly in the context of countries coming out of conflict or with a history of violence triggered by elections. The EII considered the questions: how might one strengthen public confidence in an election and increase the likelihood that its outcomes are accepted? In particular, what features of political institutions and processes typically lead political actors to accept electoral losses? What are the circumstances under which electoral contestants are more likely to win magnanimously or lose graciously? The present paper is an outcome of those discussions.