International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance

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Map of founding members

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) is an intergovernmental organization based in Stockholm, Sweden. It supports sustainable democracy around the world.

History and legal status[edit]

The Institute was established in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1995 by an international agreement registered with the United Nations.[1] The founding States were Chile, Denmark, Finland, India, Norway, South Africa and Sweden.[1] It has diplomatic status in Sweden.[2]


  • Assist countries build capacity to develop democratic institutions.
  • Provide a forum between policy-makers, academics and practitioners.
  • Synthesize research and field experience, and develop practical tools to improve democratic processes.
  • Promote accountability, transparency and efficiency in election management.
  • Facilitate local democracy assessment, monitoring and promotion by local citizens.

Current areas of activity[edit]

  • Democracy building and conflict management – developing the process for building consensus, setting priorities, designing political institutions and constitutions, organizing dialogue and decision making, promoting reconciliation and Inclusive Democracy.
  • Strengthening electoral processes – adapting electoral systems, improving access and turnout, ensuring professional management and independence, building public confidence.
  • Developing political parties as actors in democracy – reviewing external regulation and enforcement, public funding, internal management and democracy, relations with civil society and the public.
  • Political equality and participation, especially of underrepresented groups, including women in politics – identifying ways to build commitment and experience with special measures such as quotas.

IDEA offers database access on topics as voter turnout, electoral system design, quotas for women and political finance laws and regulations.

IDEA has been granted UN observer status.


International IDEA's founding member states were Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, India, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden.

Today, it has 25 members, including also Botswana, Canada, Cape Verde, Germany, Ghana, Mauritius, Mexico, Namibia, Peru, Switzerland, and Uruguay.

Japan has observer status.

Internal structure[edit]

International IDEA's headquarters are located in Stockholm. Approximately two-thirds of its roughly one hundred staff members work there. The rest are based in the field offices: in Accra, Ghana; Brussels, Cairo, Egypt; Kathmandu, Nepal; La Paz, Bolivia; Lima, Peru; Pretoria, South Africa; and San José, Costa Rica. International IDEA also has a permanent representative to the United Nations based in New York City.

The current secretary general is Vidar Helgesen since 2006. He will be replaced by the newly appointed secretary general Yves Leterme, currently the deputy secretary general at the OESO and former Prime Minister of Belgium.

Further reading[edit]

  • Reynolds, Andrew (1997). Electoral system design: the new international IDEA handbook (volume 1). Stockholm, Sweden: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). 
  • Reynolds, Andrew; Reilly, Ben; Ellis, Andrew (2005). Electoral system design: the new international IDEA handbook. Stockholm, Sweden: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). ISBN 9789185391189. 


  1. ^ a b "United Nations Treaty Series I-36243". United Nations. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  2. ^ "United Nations Treaty Series I-36244". United Nations. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 

External links[edit]