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.