Experts examined five case studies—in France, Sweden, Estonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Ukraine—to highlight effective practices as half the world’s population heads to the polls.

 WASHINGTON, DC — The Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) at the German Marshall Fund, in partnership with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), today released a new report titled “Building Resilience Against Election Influence Operations: Preparing for the European Elections in 2024 and Beyond.” With elections taking place this year in which nearly half the world’s population will head to the polls, the report provides timely insights and recommendations for how countries can bolster their resilience against the rising scale and sophistication of election disinformation.

The report examines five case studies—from France, Sweden, Estonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Ukraine—to highlight some of the most effective tools and strategies adopted by European countries to safeguard their elections and democracies from malign influence operations. Key best practices include:

  • Establishing government units to identify and counter foreign influence operations, with clear mandates and oversight to protect freedom of speech and privacy
  • Adopting whole-of-society frameworks to build resilience across institutions and sectors of society most vulnerable to disinformation
  • Investing in fact-based journalism and digital literacy programs for communities most at risk of being targeted, such as minority language populations
  • Developing proactive crisis communication plans for election authorities to anticipate and respond to false narratives
  • Leveraging robust, cross-sectoral coordination, particularly on emerging technology, to counter malign influence.

“Countries must learn from each other’s successes to counter this complex, cross-border threat”, said David Levine, report co-author and ASD’s senior election integrity fellow. “Recent examples from EU and non-EU members alike provide actionable ideas to protect the integrity of European elections and other critical contests across the globe.”

“Election management bodies and other stakeholders face immense challenges in the rapidly evolving information environment, especially with the rise of AI-generated disinformation”, said IFES’ Senior Program Manager for Europe and co-author Daria Azariev North. “The hard-won lessons from countries on the frontlines underscore the importance of a holistic, coordinated response across government and civil society to build long-term democratic resilience.”

With European Parliament elections taking place in June 2024 amid increasingly shifting geopolitical and technological landscapes, the report emphasizes that now is the time for EU members and partners to review and adapt the tools in their arsenals for combating disinformation. Countries can mount a strong defense of their democratic processes by continually learning from each other and working proactively across sectors.

Read the full report here.

The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.