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Think tanks and elections

Latin American think tanks have adopted an approach to influence electoral processes that offers lessons for other think tanks across the world. The series has been edited by Leandro Echt as part of a collaboration between On Think Tanks and CIPPEC. It has been published at VIPPAL in Spanish. Some thinktankers may suggest that electoral years are dead for think tanks: they are not good for research or for communicating their findings because they do not know who might win and what they will decide to do -and so it is best to wait until after the elections. As the articles in this series shows, this is not necessarily true. The series is accompanied, below, by articles from other regions of the world and by a compilation of initiatives.
  1. 1

    Think tanks and the electoral process: lessons from Latin America

    Many think tanks argue that elections are the worst time to attempt to influence policy. Think tanks in Latin America, disagree. There, they have developed a new technology of influence that is able to influence both policy and the policy context. This post introduces a series edited by Leandro Echt that collects cases from Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina and Paraguay. Read full article
  2. 2

    Focusing the electoral debate: CIES’ experience during the Peru 2011 campaign

    n this second post of the series of Think Tanks and Elections Javier Portocarrero reflects on the lessons learned from CIES' most recent effort to influence the electoral debate win Peru. CIES' 2006 project has served as a guide for think tanks across Latin America. The lessons presented in this post are useful for think tanks and donors interested in adopting this new Latin American Technology. Read full article
  3. 3

    Orazio Bellettini: “Think tanks can create spaces for dialogue among relevant actors of the policy community”

    In this interview, Orazio Bellettini, Director of Grupo Faro reflects on the initiative that the think tank carried out in 2006 to influence the electoral debate in Ecuador. He argues that is necessary to work at both the national and sub-national levels. Read full article
  4. 4

    Experience of Fedesarrollo in presidential campaigns in Colombia

    In this post, Leonardo Villar, Executive Director of the Foundation for High Education and Development (Fedesarrollo), reflects on the think tank's recent efforts to influence the Colombian electoral process and debate. The post argues that think tanks need to think very carefully about the political nuances of the campaign in order to design an effective strategy. Read full article
  5. 5

    Fernando Straface: “The challenge is refining the think tanks’ technology for influence in electoral campaigns”

    In this interview, Fernando Straface, Executive Director of CIPPEC, describes the organisation's experiences of 2011 and 2014. He also outlines the main characteristics of what he calls a new Latin American technology of influence and calls for a collaborative effort to develop it further and share it with think tanks in other parts of the world. Read full article
  6. 6

    Paraguay debate: The challenge of nourishing the political debate in times of elections

    In this post, Marcelo Mancuello, from CADEP in Paraguay, describes a initiative to influence the Paraguayan elections that was developed with the support of CIES, in Peru. Marcelo emphasises the importance of working in a network to achieve the initiative's objectives. Read full article
  7. 7

    Lessons on the role of Latin American think tanks in electoral processes – the way forward

    In this post, Leandro Echt outlines a number of key lessons from cases of Latin American think tanks working to inform and improve the electoral processes in their countries. He also provides a set of recommendations for action to help share the lessons learned in Latin America with other regions. Read full article
  8. 8

    FUSADES and 2012 elections in El Salvador: electoral reforms and promotion of the exercise of suffrage

    This post is part of a series on think tanks and elections around the world. FUSADES had a decade of studies and proposals to strengthen the system of representation and the building of a qualified institutional democracy in El Salvador. In 2012, FUSADES designed and implemented a project of civic education and research of the impact of a new electoral reform in order to collaborate in the voting exercise, the understand the new approach and analyse the election results. Read full article
  9. 9

    Think tanks and electoral processes: an opportunity that should not be missed

    About 4 years ago, Fernando Straface from CIPPEC called for Latin American think tanks to share what he called a new technology of influence in electoral years. After close to a decade of projects in more than 5 countries in the region, it is now possible to share this innovation with others. This series has presented some of the lessons learned by think tanks in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina and Paraguay. In this post, Enrique Mendizabal argues for its replicability in other regions and provides some advice on how to go about it. Read full article
This extended series provides examples, cases, and accounts from around the world to complement the cases from Latin America.
  1. 10

    CSDS: Five decades of Understanding Electoral Politics in India

    In this post, Sanjay Kumar, Director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), outlines the think tank's work on elections in India. CSDS has one of the largest body of information and knowledge on elections outside Europe and North America. A key lessons is that think tanks can influence elections by studying them. Read full article
  2. 11

    The IEA presidential debates: 15 years of upholding electoral accountability

    This post is part of a series on think tanks and elections around the world. Mrs. Jean Mensa, Executive Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), shares IEA's experience since 2000 in organising Presidential Debates in Ghana. Read full article
  3. 12

    Making energy matters matter: entering the electoral field

    Think tanks can play a critical role during election processes. For boutique think tanks, elections can present important opportunities to get their messages on their sector of expertise across. In this post Tutana Kvaratskhelia discusses how World Experience for Georgia plans to work during the upcoming elections to promote the use of evidence for policy in sustainable energy. This post is part of the Thinking about think tanks in the South Caucasus series. Read full article
  4. 13

    PLAAS seeks to influence land reform policy through media debate

    In this post Rebecca Pointer outlines the approach that the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of Cape Town uses to influence land reform policy in the 2014 South African elections. PLAAS' approach emphasises media engagement. Read full article
  5. 14

    Think tanks and the UK general election: who lost, who won and who decided not to play?

    Rowland Manthorpe from Think Tank Review provides an insightful analysis of the different strategies (and impact) of think tanks during the recent British General Election. It is a good companion to this year's Prospect's Think Tank Awards. Read full article
  6. 15

    Social scientists have a real opportunity to influence what politicians say in the run-up to the General Election

    Academic researchers should have their say in holding policy promises to account. In this post first published on the LSE's Impact of Social Sciences blog, Jonathan Breckon charts the various activities around the country aimed at providing a rigorous evidence-base in the run-up to the UK’s General Election. A whole range of economists, statisticians, social scientists and others are fact-checking what politicians and pundits say so that they don’t get away with iffy promises or sound-bites. But the challenge in the boom of fact-checkers is getting the quality right. Read full article