Folke Bernadotte Academy – Swedish agency for peace, security and development

Karolina Riedel

Statistician in election observation missions

Karolina Riedel is a statistician and member of the FBA’s resource pool for election observation missions. She regularly travels to countries where elections are being held in order to compile reports from the observers. It is important in order to get an overall picture of the fairness of an election.

FBA is tasked with recruitment, training and secondment of personnel to the international election observation missions in which Sweden participates. FBA seconds Swedish personnel to approximately 20 election observation missions held by the EU or OSCE each year. The election observation missions are often quickly established. In order for the FBA to be able to contribute to the missions by deploying personnel with short notice, FBA has a resource pool with qualified staff available. The pool consists of short-term and long-term observers, and statisticians like Karolina.

Karolina, can you tell us more about your work in the missions?

– An election observation mission consists of various parts. The so called core team and the long-term observers are on deployment for several weeks. They look at the media coverage and the drawing up of voting lists. The short-term observers monitor what goes on during election day; from the opening of the polling stations to the ballot count. They all fill out forms about their observations and send them to me. My mission is to compile the results and give it to the deputy head of mission and the analysts, so that they can present a report the day after the elections. During a mission, I am usually deployed to the country where there is an election for 8–9 days. But my contracts last longer than that. Before I travel abroad I have to prepare the forms.

What made you interested in election observation?

– I studied economics at university, and got in touch with a local election observation organization in Sri Lanka. I was there during the elections in 2010, I coordinated the observers together with a colleague. When I came home to Sweden I saw that the Swedish resource pool for election observation missions was open for applicants, so I applied and was accepted. I have since participated in many election observation missions.

What do you do when you are not being deployed?

– I used to work with statistics and opinion polls at the University of Gothenburg. Lately I have been on parental leave interspersed with election observation missions. I am soon to start a new job at the Swedish Ministry of Finance. My deployments to election observation missions are usually brief, so combining missions with a steady job and a family is possible.

Why do you find the election observation missions to be important?

– Elections are a very concrete part of a democracy. It feels meaningful to be present while an election is taking place, and to monitor how it goes. An election observation mission watches the election with the eyes of a voter. We look at, for example, if the voting secrecy is respected, if the voters are being pressured or influenced, and if the ballot count is fair and accurate. We are often being told by the locals that it is important that we are present, and if we had not been there the situation may have been different. It is also great fun to be on a mission together with incredibly professional people from all over the world.

Photo: Tomasz Janczy, Jay Baker, AFGE

Learn more about our impact in the field

Akiko Ahl

Stabilization and coordination officer in Somalia

Read more about Akiko

Björn Tedeman

Election observer

Read more about Björn

Gabriel von Horn

Head of operations in Georgia

Read more about Gabriel

Mimmi Milligan

Reintegration adviser in Geneva

Read more about Mimmi

Adam Bergman

Adviser to the UN in Nigeria

Read more about Adam

Johan Chytraeus

Monitoring officer in Ukraine

Read more about Johan

MORE FROM HOME

Somalia to be rebuilt after 20 years of war

Somalia is one of the world’s most conflict-affected states. For over 20 years, the country has been without a functional central government. But international efforts to unite and reconstruct Somalia are underway. Sweden is now set to double its foreign aid to Somalia, and FBA is commissioned to contribute to Sweden’s development cooperation with the East African nation.

2018-07-02 16:25

Read our publications

Image description

Una perspectiva de género en la construcción de la paz

This training manual has been developed to provide an introduction in Spanish to the policy framework on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) and its follow-up resolutions on women, peace and security.

Documents
Attributes
Author:
Gabriela Elroy
Year:
2018

IN THE FIELD

THE FBA BLOG

  • Posted by Carl Fredrik Birkoff

    Cross-border cooperation between Ethiopia and Kenya for conflict prevention and peacebuilding

    Within the framework of the strategy for Sweden’s regional development cooperation with sub-Saharan Africa 2016-2021 FBA is expected to contribute to increased regional integration and strengthened capacity to address cross-border challenges and opportunities at regional levels. This assignment is very much in line with the innovative, comprehensive and integrated cross-border programme between Ethiopia and Kenya initiated by the Ethiopian and Kenyan governments, in partnership with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the United Nations.

    During the ... Read entire post »

    2018-08-16 15:20
  • Posted by Ben Rhee

    Action for Peacekeeping: What role for the Challenges Forum?

    On March 28 this year, UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced the UN’s Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) agenda. At the heart of the initiative lies an urgent call to mobilise support for peace operations, which are increasingly faced with a wide-array of complex challenges.

    Operating in some of the most difficult environments and intractable conflicts on the planet, UN and multilateral peace operations today are dealing with a host of issues and unrealistic expectations by the international community ... Read entire post »

    2018-07-11 10:11
  • Posted by Andreas Berg

    When keeping the peace means keeping your distance

    Summertime in Tbilisi has arrived, carried in on the back of dramatic thunderstorms sweeping in from the Black Sea, pouring down enough rain to transform the steep streets of the old town into short-lived rivers, and leaving daily temperatures slightly higher after every visit. Soon even such weather-driven drama will dissipate however, settling into a steady 35 degree heat during July and August, predictable enough to allow for the planning of cooling hikes in the Caucasus ... Read entire post »

    2018-06-27 14:10
Photo

Stefan Åström

Stefan Åström is expert on Latin America and disarmament of ex-combatants

More about our experts

Upcoming courses

Twitter