Democratic governance is the bedrock of the OSCE’s system of values and standards. It is a system of government where institutions function according to democratic processes and norms, both internally and in their interaction with other institutions.
ODIHR's work on democratic governance is anchored in the standards that OSCE participating States have agreed, including political pluralism, institutional accountability and responsiveness, an active civil society, human rights, the rule of law, and democratic elections.
ODIHR supports the efforts of participating States to improve democratic governance by increasing the level of women’s participation in politics, strengthening parliaments, developing multiparty political landscapes, preventing the abuse of state resources, and following up on the recommendations made by election observation missions. In many of these activities, ODIHR works in partnership with local civil society organizations, encouraging them to contribute actively to debates on democratic governance. ODIHR strengthens their ability to contribute to these debates by providing access to ODIHR’s tools, expertise, and networks.
The OSCE, through many of its field operations, addresses the needs of parliaments to help ensure that they are able to perform their role effectively.
ODIHR supports field operations by providing advice and expertise, as well as sharing knowledge and networking tools. For example, ODIHR now partners with Agora, an international online database of information and best practices on parliamentary strengthening. On occasion, ODIHR also works directly with parliaments in OSCE participating States. For example, ODIHR has assisted the Georgian parliament with respect to donor co-ordination, outreach, and developing reform strategies.
Developing multiparty political landscapes
One of ODIHR’s objectives is to support participating States in fully institutionalizing multiparty systems and to ensure that all political parties work to preserve this system regardless of which party is in power. Well-designed and properly enforced laws and regulations on political parties help create an environment in which parties can most effectively perform their essential democratic functions.
ODIHR developed and published Guidelines on Political Party Regulation, an innovative joint initiative with the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission that provides guidance for the drafting and implementation of legislation and regulations on political parties. The guidelines provide an overview of good practices that can be applied across the entire range of democratic systems in the OSCE region.
ODIHR has also worked with think tanks in a number of countries – such as in Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Tajikistan - to produce reports on the challenges of building a multiparty system in specific contexts. The reports provide recommendations on how to overcome such challenges by reforming the legislation and regulations governing political parties.