ECES was established in September 2010 and launched in December of the same year when Abbot Apollinaire Mulhongo Malu Malu, the first President of ECES management board, was invited by the European Commission to attend the European Development Days in Brussels. During this occasion, the creation of ECES was announced.
A shared ideal for a European not-for-profit electoral support
ECES emerged as an idea of a European not-for-profit foundation specialized in electoral support much long before being officially launched in 2010. The initiative came from Fabio Bargiacchi back in 1997, when he participated in an electoral supervision mission in Bosnia for the Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). There, he realised that the USA were funding American foundations and organisations dedicated to implementing electoral assistance via an established cooperative agreement since 1995, known as the CEPPS (the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening that still exists and comprise three not-for-profit organisations: the International Foundation for Electoral System, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republic Institute) . The EU and/or the EU member states however, did not have such organisations but were instead funding other international organisations such as the OSCE and the United Nations.
Since then Fabio Bargiacchi worked exclusively on the electoral support sector again with the OSCE but mainly for the EU and the UNDP where from 2004 to 2010 he contributed to establish the strategic partnership between the EU and UNDP on electoral assistance including its dedicated Joint EC UNDP Task Force for which he was the coordinator from the UNDP Brussels office.
Taking on board all these experiences he went on to fulfil his dream of establishing a European based not-for-profit foundation to provide an alternative delivery mechanism embodying the views and values of the EU and EU Member States as donors in favour of the electoral stakeholders of the beneficiaries' countries of their development cooperation. Over the years he co-opted to this cause the late Abbot Malu Malu as well as all other senior professionals who became members of the board such as Paulo Marques, Monica Frassoni, Lino Francescon, Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira, Eva Palmans, Jose Lambiza, Bob Kabamba, Eric Tourres and Giorgis Andhebram.
Other professionals in the electoral and democracy support sector joined later the adventure, as members of ECES Management Unit, as partners in Brussels or as experts delivering projects in the field. They all contributed to making ECES one of the three most important implementing partners of electoral assistance of the EU at global level. The non exhaustive list include: Mette Bakken, Cathy Lespiaucq, Dominique Weertz, Flavien Misoni, Camille Rouaud, Victoria Florinder, Agung Putranto, Khaldoun Dudin, Dunia Ramazani, David Le Notre, Scipion du Chatenet, Adolfo Cayuso, Franck Balme, Rindai Vava, Steadman Harrison, Sylvestre Somo and many others that would be too long here to nominate.
They all shared similar ideas about the need to establish and consolidate the European Centre for Electoral Support also to integrate the views of the beneficiaries’ countries of EU funded elecoral assistance in terms of visibility, steering of projects, flexibility and cost effectiveness to dedicate more funds to activities instead of administration and international human resources.
In July 2011, Fabio Bargiacchi was entrusted by the members of ECES management board to lead the organisation’s management unit as its Executive Director. The same year, Monica Frassoni was appointed as Vice President of ECES of which she later took over the Presidency, when Abbot Malu Malu resigned due to commitments in his home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and to health reasons that unfortunately costed his life a few years later.
10 years of achievements
Despite having been launched at the end of 2010, ECES embarked on its first real large endeavour at the beginning of 2012 by delivering face-to-face and distance training to the electoral management bodies of the ten countries being members of the ECCAS (Economic Community of Central African States). The same year ECES was also awarded its first EU funded project to support the local elections in post-revolution Libya
Ten years down the line, ECES is now a well-established foundation that is proud of its roots and the course it has taken. It has overcome many challenges and boasts numerous milestone achievements. Our quest to deliver electoral assistance worldwide while promoting European values through a European distinct delivery mechanism is constantly growing. As such, ECES is committed to continuing contributing to democratic and electoral processes around the world and, together with the United Nations Development Programme and International IDEA, nowadays is one of the three most important partners of the EU for the implementation of EU funded electoral support.
“Our strengths lie in the deep knowledge of electoral matters coupled with extensive comparative experiences in project management but also and foremost in the passion and commitment we put in our work to support electoral processes worldwide. We are convinced that this is our call and we feel a profound fulfilment to give our contribution to the work that the international community is doing in terms of democratisation and development.”- Fabio Bargiacchi
“My dream is that elections become a celebration of democracy everywhere and especially in Africa, where often they are a drama. At the end of each election organized in a credible, transparent and cost effective manner, all parties and candidates should accept the results and the choice of the electorate. Those who lose the elections should play their watchdog role over the Government and prepare to challenge the majority for the next elections following the rules of democracy rather than through violence.”- Abbot Apollinaire Malu Malu