Rushdi Nackerdien – Elections and Elections Management

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Rushdi Nackerdien is an elections expert. Having perfected his skill in managing elections in South Africa, he now manages and trains people around the globe on how to run elections. He has worked in many conflict regions around the world, in the hope of supporting the opportunity for credible elections which may lead to credible democracies. Rushdi has perviously worked at the Institute for Democracy in South African (IDASA),  The Independent Electoral Committee (IEC) in South Africa, (which manages all South African elections), and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).

He is a founding member of the Electoral Leadership Institute.

About this Conversation

We spoke with Rushdi at his home, about elections management and what it takes to administer a credible election. Elections are essential to democracy, in  modern democracies elections serve as an endorsement of a democracy. Citizens are unable to trust a government if the elections process is fraught with corruption. If this occurs then the new state begins on the wrong footing.

However a credible elections isn’t always a sign that a functional democracy will follow. Rushdi cites many cases from his experience where elections serve to entrench and legitise an exising, previously illigimate rule.

Rushdi discussed the “ third wave of democracy” coming out of the cold war and the increased awareness for the need for proper election management and monitoring. Also discussed was the global trend towards the balancing of economic growth and democracy in the global context, and its effects on the stability of a nation should they fail at either. A comparison of China and India, cited as Rushdi, is a good indication of how growth without democracy is insufficient for the stability of a nation.

Also discussed was the different investments citizens appear to making in national elections as opposed to local government elections. This was seen as concerning, as local government has a more direct relationship with citizens.

Rushdi finally shared with us his view of the need for active participation of citizens in the functioning of the state and the many ways to do this, in addition to voting, which is essential. He is a strong contender that technology has simplified the ways in which people can participate in the management of their country, without huge sacrifices to either time, resources or security.

Points of Discussion

  • You are an elections management expert, what does this mean?
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  • Does an election define a country, a citizen’s relationship with a state and the nature of a countries democracy?
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  • If a country has a well-run election process does this mean the country has a strong democracy?
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  • Is the citizen the enemy?
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  • Other than waiting for elections how to citizens take control over the democracy?
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  • Do South Africans understand their electoral system, do we have an educated electorate and do you think the system (Proportional Representation) is fair?
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  • What are the chances that an electoral commission could be tampered with by a nefarious government?
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  • Is it healthy for a country to have one dominant political party, as is the case in South Africa with the ANC?
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  • Though civil society structures seem to be weakening, citizens (around the world) are finding other ways to express their voices what is your take on this?
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