Supporting Inclusive Political Participation
Since 2008, NDI has been working with women and indigenous people in Guatemala to boost their leadership skills and opportunities to hold office. The Institute also provides technical assistance to political parties to design and carry out recruitment plans and to better meet the needs of women and indigenous people within the party.
In 2010 and 2011, NDI organized two intensive courses on political strategy and communications for women candidates. The Institute revised and published the curriculum from the course as a manual for prospective women candidates: “We Are Campaigning” (“Estamos en Campaña”). In 2009, NDI organized a leadership academy in the majority indigenous department of Quetzaltenango for representatives from civil society organizations and political parties. NDI published guides to help academy participants train others in their communities, parties and organizations. NDI has also held training-of-trainer workshops for outstanding academy participants and trainers from government institutions to help them more effectively reach out to women and include them in the political process. In addition, NDI organized internships with government institutions for academy alumnae.
NDI assists the women’s committee in congress, which has successfully advocated for greater gender equity in the national budget and continues to advocate for a minimum requirement for the inclusion of women on all party candidate lists. In addition, NDI is working with the indigenous committee in congress, along with civil society and party leaders, to better advocate for laws that are a priority for indigenous communities, such as laws that address rural development and sacred lands.
NDI supports the Guatemalan Congress as it reforms election law to promote a more credible electoral process and a more representative, democratic political party system. This involves congressional leaders engaging with the TSE and civil society to reach consensus on reforms.
NDI is working with congress to make its internal procedures and functions more transparent and effective. This includes helping leaders develop and approve priority legislation—with a particular focus on citizen security and justice—to promote greater public engagement and confidence in the legislative process.
Past NDI Programs
NDI observed the 1990 elections and monitored the effects of political violence throughout the campaign. NDI's pre-election and election day delegations urged Guatemala to safeguard its citizenry from human rights abuses and seek greater political participation by the country's indigenous people.
In 2003, NDI supported Guatemala’s first nationwide election monitoring effort by Mirador Electoral (Election Watch), a coalition of civic groups. NDI helped Mirador protect the
integrity of the election process by issuing pre-election statements and election day releases that helped hold the TSE accountable to citizens; documenting incidents of political violence, intimidation and coercion for the Guatemalan Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office; conducting a statistically based audit of the voter registry to verify its accuracy; and organizing a national network of observers that collected systematic information on voting and counting processes on election day. On election day, Mirador alerted the TSE to problems with indelible ink and long lines at polling places. The TSE responded by extending voting hours and issuing instructions to poll workers on the proper use of ink to prevent double voting.
In 2007, NDI again supported Mirador’s comprehensive pre-election and election day observation effort, including auditing the voter registry; monitoring election authorities, political parties and media; and a systematic qualitative and quantitative observation on election day, including a parallel vote tabulation (PVT), an independent check of the official election results. Mirador also worked with indigenous partner groups to track the inclusion of indigenous issues in the electoral process.
Partnering with the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO), NDI supported a comprehensive study of barriers to indigenous political participation in Guatemala. FLACSO and NDI experts used surveys in four communities to research why indigenous citizens vote at a lower rate relative to their non-indigenous counterparts in Guatemala. The 2008 study found that lack of a proper identification card—rather than a lack of interest—was the main reason that Guatemalans across all ethnic groups did not vote.
Leading up to the 2011 elections, NDI supported election observation projects of eight different civic groups, focusing on election-related violence, campaign spending, alleged vote-buying and intimidation, and indigenous and women’s participation. NDI also assisted Acción Ciudadana (Citizen Action), a member of the Mirador coalition, to organize a PVT in the first and second rounds. Following the election, the Institute began working with civil society groups and congress to generate dialogue on electoral reforms such as greater transparency in party financing and greater consolidation of the country’s fragmented political parties — reforms based on the findings from observation projects.
Following the 1996 peace accords, NDI worked with Guatemalan partners to learn more about citizen perceptions of democracy and governance through focus groups. Most Guatemalans interviewed emphasized the need to build institutions that encourage citizen participation in the political process beyond elections. NDI helped to disseminate this information to the political parties and civic committees to encourage them to respond to the needs of citizens at the local level.
NDI Guatemala receives funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID),and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
For more information about these programs, use our contact form or contact:
Sara Barker, Senior Program Officer
Eduardo Núñez, Resident Director