The Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC) is widely recognized as the most successful electoral authority in the Middle East. The CEC enjoys an unparalleled reputation amongst Palestinian institutions for competence and neutrality. It has implemented two national-level elections under difficult circumstances and despite the application of substantial pressure, including violence and threats of violence. The CEC’s supervision of both elections has been recognized by international observers as exemplary, not only by regional, but also by broader international standards. The peaceful transfer of power after last January’s parliamentary elections owes much to the effectiveness and integrity with which the elections were administered and the trust and respect the CEC commands from all stakeholders.
2. Project Objectives
The CEC restructured and reformed after PLC elections in 2006. It continued to build on the successes of the last two elections in order to become a sustainable, permanent institution. Part of this effort is development of in-house continuous education and capacity building system for which BRIDGE project is an excellent tool. IFES and Palestinian CEC are working together on implementing BRIDGE as continuous education system by developing and implementing its foundations, including:
Developing an appropriate curriculum for BRIDGE training based on CEC needs;
Training and certification in BRIDGE methodology for up to 20 senior long-term staff members of the CEC, including both headquarter and regional staff members;
Train-the-Facilitator training for two to four existing staff members to build in-house capacity for training and certification of CEC staff.
This joint project between IFES and CEC aims at delivering a series of BRIDGE workshops covering several modules that both parties esteem their relevance to the CEC staff. These modules are:
Elections Management Design
The first workshop took place in Ramallah from April 6 – 10, 2008. It covered the Voter Registration and electoral Systems modules. The second workshop was held from October 12 – 16, 2008 in Ramallah as well. It covered the Elections management Design and Boundary Delimitation modules.
3. The Training Topics and Workshop Agenda
The training workshop covered a period of 5-days. The training topics were carefully chosen with special attention to Palestine specific context. The following table illustrates the workshop framework (a full workshop agenda is attached to this report):
DAY 1 & 2 Election Management Design.
DAY 3 & 4 Boundary Delimitation Principles, criteria and applications.
DAY 5 Boundary Delimitation in Palestine – Using GIS, and Partners in the Boundary Delimitation Process
4. Choosing and ProducingThe Training Materials
The material used for this workshop was mainly based on the Bridge version 2 modules of elections management design and boundary delimitation. In addition to the Bridge materials, the facilitators produced new materials for new activities as well as background materials covering some of the course topics. The participants’ folder included as well the following attachments:
International standards of free and fair elections in the MENA region
UN Human Rights and Elections Handbook
Other valuable resources and references made available to the participants included IDEA handbook on Electoral Management Design and IFES Strategic Planning Guide, both in Arabic.This workshop also included a practical exercise on Boundary Delimitation on internet. This exercise was both informative and interesting for most participants.The fifth and final day of the workshop was designed to include a session on the use of GIS systems in Boundary Delimitation. This session was presented by Ms. Fatina Hodali, GIS Advisor for IFES WB/Gaza.The following session was presented by Mr. Shaher Abu Daghash from the CEC and it was on the practical steps of the Boundary Delimitation process carried out by the CEC for the local councils’ elections. This session was enriched by the participation of staff from the ministries of planning and local governance as well as the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. The structure of the last day and the participation of the external expert (Ms. Hodali) as well as the guests from different Palestinian ministries proved to be successful and increased the synergy of the discussions that followed the presentations.
5. The participants
Nineteen participants representing CEC’s headquarters and regional offices participated in the 5 day training course. Two of the nineteen participants were women.
Emad Yousef (BRIDGE level 1 facilitator) was supposed to be part of the facilitation team. He could not get a visa on time to participate in this workshop. In spite of his absence, Suhair and Khalil worked very hard and managed to bridge the gap created by Emad’s absence. Emad however contributed to the preparations of BRIDGE training by participating in preparing the agenda, materials for training by call conference meetings.
Daily and final workshop evaluations reflected participants’ satisfaction with the workshop. Many of the participants suggested that other stakeholders attend similar workshops, such as staff of the ministries of local governance, planning and interior, as well as field coordinators within the CEC. The following is an excerpt from the participants’ feedback on the training:
New topics in Elections domain
Participating in Bridge enriches my operational information and clarifies it in very practical way
The training is very beneficial because of the energizing activities between the main topics which avoided any boredom
The practical activities and presentations
This training completed my idea about the electoral system and the duties of each department in the CEC
The training proved the validity of what the CEC is doing from technical aspects which was ensuring to the CEC Staff.
The overall training was very beneficial but I was most benefited from the boundary delimitation topic.
Increased my knowledge in different issues
Get to know my colleagues more
Increase the time for practical training and exercises
Our presence in this training is a gesture of respect and appreciation of our performance, minds and potentials by the CEC by delegating such qualified trainers