Conflict & Security


Protecting Politics: Deterring the Influence of Organized Crime on Elections

Political parties are the centrepiece of political representation in democratic systems. Regrettably, political corruption undermines this important role and generates distrust towards politicians, disengaging citizens from public decision-making processes. 




Understanding and acting on the effects that violent conflict and the state management and mitigation of violence have over electoral processes, constitution-making processes, political parties and representation is fundamental when engaging in policy debates or programming in contexts of state fragility, and in post-conflict countries.

This initiative produces both knowledge and tools to target and prevent the effects of conflict.



Organized crime and threats to democratic politics

Over the past several decades transnational organized crime has increasingly been identified as an important international threat to democracy. Criminal networks form symbiotic alliances with politicians, political parties and state officials in order to safeguard their interests. At the same time, politicians have been keen to exploit the resources and power at the disposal of organized crime.

This nexus between illicit networks and political institutions and actors affects the state’s capacity to provide basic public services, and undermines the legitimacy of the state and democratic politics itself. Furthermore, the unprecedented openness in trade, finance, travel and communication has given organized crime business opportunities, making this a truly transnational phenomenon.


Our research

We have been conducting research and policy support on the nexus between illicit networks and democratic politics since 2009. In 2012, International IDEA initiated the Protecting Politics project. This project draws on fieldwork supported by our partnerships with local and international organizations and local experts. It aims at increasing comparative understanding of how illicit networks affect democratic processes.

Publications that have so far been produced have focused on three key regions: the Baltic States (2013), West Africa (2013), and Latin America (2014). We have published four reports on organized crime that focus on the nexus of organized crime with elections; political parties; local democracy; and service delivery and accountability. The reports include comparative case studies to demonstrate prevention and mitigation strategies in different regions of the world.

Tools & Databases

Networks & Partners

ACE Project
African Union
Asia-Europe Foundation
Australian National University
Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF)
Commonwealth Secretariat
Electoral Tribunal of Mexico
Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)
Fortify Rights
Hanns Seidel Foundation
Inter Parliamentary Union
Minority Rights Group International
National Democratic Institute (NDI)
Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI)
Oslo Governance Center
Stockholm University
Sunlight Foundation

Contact Us

Nathalie Ebead
Head of Democracy Assessment, Analysis and Advisory (DAAA)
Nathalie Ebead manages and provides strategic direction to the Democracy Assessment, Analysis and Advisory (DAAA) Unit. Ebead works to build International IDEA’s capacity to strengthen democratic institutions and processes through analysis, assessment, and advice on democratic trends and issues.

Engage with us