Democracy and Elections in the Middle East

Since its inception, the Center for Democracy and Election Management has given considerable attention to the challenges of democratization in the Middle East.


CDEM Hosts Regional Conference for Gulf Election Officials in Kuwait, Prepares for Follow-on Study Tour to India

In response to a need identified by election officials and election partners in the Gulf region, American University's Center for Democracy and Election Management (CDEM) convened a conference in Kuwait on February 15 and 16, 2009, to explore establishment of a regional association of Gulf election officials .

Funded by the U.S. Department of State's Middle East Partnership Initiative, the conference provided an opportunity for wide-ranging discussions on regional electoral cooperation that could serve as a platform for improved professional development, networking, data sharing and promotion of electoral best practices and procedures.

Following from the conference, CDEM has begun preliminary work to coordinate a week-long study tour to India during that nation's upcoming national elections which will span a period of several weeks during April-May 2009.

For more information about the conference, please contact CDEM Associate Director, Tihana B. Blanc at

To see a copy of CDEM's press release, click here


Election Management Training Institute, Summer 2008

American University's Center for Democracy and Election Management (CDEM) will conduct an Election Management Training Institute for a group of about 25 representatives from the Persian Gulf states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Yemen. The training is sponsored by the U.S. State Department's Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) and will take place between June 16 and 26, 2008. Sessions will be held at American University and other locations in Washington, DC.

The participants are members of parliament, election practitioners, and representatives from civil society and the media. The Institute will bring participants together with election experts--scholars and practitioners--to shed light on best practices in election management. It will examine the full range of experiences and challenges in administering elections. The Institute will use hands-on group work sessions to facilitate the sharing and application of comparative ideas and experiences.
View: Agenda | Speaker bios


Election Management Institute, Winter 2007

In the Winter of 2007, CDEM organized a week-long institute on democracy and elections for twenty election practitioners from Yemen, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain with a grant from the U.S. State Department's Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). This MEPI grant is part of a long term effort by CDEM to work in electoral reform in the U.S. and abroad. The Institute drew upon experiences in U.S. election reform (notably through the Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform) and the many experiences we have had internationally in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. Our Institute on Election Management in the Summer of 2006 served as a model, but we prepared for the 2007 Institute with an extended visit to four countries in the Persian Gulf in July 2006.
View: Final Report


Democracy Conference at American University of Cairo

AU has been collaborating with the American University of Cairo (AUC) in exchanging students and developing a major conference examining the strenghts and weaknesses of democracy in the Middle East. The conference will be co-sponsored by AU and AUC and will be held in Cairo on November 3-5, 2007.

Picture: PanelistsTransitions to Democracy in the Middle East and North Africa: Lessons from Other Regions

CDEM has been collaborating with the Council for a Community of Democracies on a project on democratic transitions. The conference held on March 9th, 2007, served the purpose of preparing the agenda for a major three-day conference which will be held in Budapest in November 2007. The framework of the subsequent conference will ask the questions, "What are the barriers to Democracy in the Middle East?" and what can be learned from transitions in Europe and Africa.
View: agenda | American Weekly story

Picture: Summer Institute ParticipantsCDEM Election Management Summer Institute

In the Summer of 2006, CDEM organized an institute on democracy and elections for thirty two officials from thirteen countries and of which ten came from the Middle East.
View: website | final report

Picture: ParticipantsConference: 2003 Palestinian and Israeli Dialogue in Jerusalem

In the Fall of 2003 and January 2003, CDEM organized a conference among Palestinians and Israelis in Washington, Jerusalem, and Ramallah to seek points of consensus among distinguished Palestinian and Israeli leaders on the conditions that could permit genuine elections in the West Bank and Gaza. A group of 18 Palestinians, 16 Israelis, and 8 international advisors committed themselves to participate in a Conference on January 7-9, 2003.
View: website