Elections in times of shrinking and closing civic and political spaces

Restricting the work of CSOs and parties in opposition is a global phenomenon within the wave of rising authori­tarianism. In recent years, more than 63 countries have passed restrictive laws on civil society space and increased the criminali­zation of and discrimination against NGOs worldwide. In times of competitive elections, this space is in particular contested and elections are often a “stress-test” for electoral demo­cracies. Politicians and activists are both under pressure. The former as they fear losing power, the latter as they face (heavy) re­pressions.

Despite those re­pressions, it can be observed that CSOs and parties in opposition find new ways and inno­vative forms to react to those illiberal ten­dencies and to defend their spaces, gain votes and mobilize supporters. Based on this obser­vation, I will explore the national and inter­national factors that condition civil societies’ and opposition parties’ ability to (re-)act, facing increasing shrinking and closing spaces within the electoral cycle. I argue that a minimum of re­silience within the electoral cycle is neces­sary to keep the organi­zational capacity.