The Showcase Seminar organized on 3-4 May in Vienna, Austria, was the very first one that aimed to bring together election professionals from across Europe.
As BRIDGE methodology is not that widely known in Europe, the Association of European Election Officials (ACEEEO) decided to take the lead in showcasing BRIDGE methodology with the support of OSCE/ODIHR and E-Voting.CC. This Showcase was the closing event of the 12 months program granted by IFES.
The Showcase participants represented a diversity of countries and sub-regions of Europe just as experiences in the election world: from high senior representatives as chairmen or secretary general of election commissions up to junior election professionals. Participants have come from Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland.
By showcasing BRIDGE facilitators focused on the topics of External Voting and Decreasing Participation and some implementation of election observation reports. Our agenda was very tight and possibly very ambitious, and by the end we realized we could have passed a whole week dealing with each topic. Participants were highly interested in both topics and soon got engaged with BRIDGE methodology.
The Showcase’s lead facilitator was Dr. Helena Catt, who is not only an experienced BRIDGE facilitator but as former Chief Executive and Commissioner for the New Zealand Electoral Commission she also brought great experiences to the workshop. On behalf of ACEEEO Ms. Anna Sólyom, and Mr. Stepan Ahiy were part of the facilitation team. During preparations facilitators’ team faced new challenges in drafting activities for the topic of ‘Decreasing Participation’ which does not exist yet as such in the BRIDGE curriculum. Some activities were taken out from Voters’ and Civic Education and more were created for this workshop.
The Showcase was highly successful as participants keened on knowing more of all topics in focus – and I do hope that we will be able to organize regional BRIDGE modules dealing with the questions of External Voting and Decreasing Participation.