The Election Commission, Nepal (ECN) participated in the 9th Forum of Latin American Democracies in Mexico City as well as in a peer-to-peer exchange between election officials of Mexico, Tunisia and Nepal, in April 2019.
The forum was organised on the theme, “Challenges of politics and democracy in digital era,” by the National Electoral Institute (INE) of Mexico. It discussed the challenges of politics and democracy in the digital age. The two-day programme included discussions on electorates in the digital era; new technology and electoral campaign; strategies for future informed voting; electronic voting (e-voting); use of new technologies, accountability, transparency and integrity of electoral process; and new technology and electoral campaign.
During the forum, Mexico shared its experience of creating a social media platform for the 2018 elections in Mexico with Facebook, Twitter and Google in order to verify the information in real time through a website called verificado. The Forum also discussed issues related to electronic voting as well as security considerations related to the introduction of technology in elections. It asserted the need to conduct feasibility studies, functionality and security tests, trainings, and comprehensive piloting before adopting electronic voting in a country. Moreover, topics including fake news, disinformation, hate speech, digital citizenry and their impact on democracy were also discussed.
The forum was followed by a peer-to-peer exchange, which brought together ten participants, three from Nepal and seven from Tunisia. It shed light on the challenges and opportunities faced by the three countries on issues including campaign financing as well as outreach and technology in elections. The experience sharing among the Election Management Bodies (EMBs) of Mexico, Tunisia and Nepal tackled the legal framework on public and private financing of political parties and electoral campaigns; finance control and oversight of political parties and campaigns; and institutional strategies to promote a conscious and informed voting and disinformation and fake news in social media.
The visit was supported by United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP’s) Electoral Support Project (ESP). It proved to be extremely important in identifying the emerging challenges in the world of elections for Nepal as well as in promoting a global exchange of learning. The exchange was useful for Nepal in learning about party and campaign financing from the experiences of other countries on oversight of political party and electoral campaign finance mechanisms; considering a complete package of voter and civic education strategy to make it inclusive and accessible; and adapting to digital technologies in context to elections.
The Electoral Support Project- Phase II (ESP) is a technical assistance initiative which focuses on a long-term institutional and professional capacity development of the Election Commission (ECN) for conducting credible, inclusive and transparent elections. The objectives of the project are 1) to strengthen the capacity of the ECN to function as an independent and credible institution, 2) to allow the conduct of the election cycle in an effective, sustainable, and credible manner, and 3) to increase democratic participation, particularly for under-represented and disadvantaged segments of the Nepali society. ESP is currently funded by EU.