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Elections play a pivotal role in fostering participation, accountability, and transparency, those qualities of good governance that the United Nations Development Program wishes to encourage. Regularly held elections can be the principal means by which a significant part of society participates and interacts with the government. This is especially true in states with larger populations or where direct interactions between the leaders and the citizenry are not logistically feasible. In addition, elections may serve as a mechanism of accountability, ensuring that government actions resonate with the wishes of the governed. Publicly contested campaigns may elicit greater transparency in government policies and practices.

Virtually all of the Arab countries hold regular elections, institutionalized in their constitutions or other official documents of the government. The country articles describe the electoral system, the rules and laws governing elections, the settlement of disputes arising from electoral contests, the laws governing parties and political associations, and a brief summary of the results of the most recent presidential and legislative elections.

The choice of electoral system and the design of elections can play a decisive role in election outcomes. Two basic electoral systems are the winner-take-all or majoritarian system, and the proportional representation (PR) system. Under the rules of the basic winner-take-all system, elections are held in single-member districts and the candidate receiving the most votes, although not necessarily a majority, wins the contest. In another variant of the winner-take-all system - one that exists in some Arab countries for presidential elections - if no candidate receives an absolute majority of the votes in the first round of voting, a second round of voting takes place between the candidates receiving the two highest vote shares. This method ensures that the winner of a contest is always elected by a majority of the voters. The benefits of the winner-take-all system are the relative simplicity and clarity of its rules, both for the institutions that oversee and manage elections and for the voters participating in them.

Under the PR system, elections are held in multi-member constituencies and voters either cast one or multiple votes for candidates. Constituencies may have as few as two members. There are multiple variants of PR, including the open and closed party-list system, the cumulative voting system, and the single-transfer voting system. In many countries, there is also a minimum threshold requirement for parties to win seats. The principal benefit of the proportional representation system is the greater access it provides for small or minority parties. It can also eliminate the need for multiple rounds of voting, as sometimes occur in the winner-take-all arrangement.

A semi-proportional system mixes elements of these two basic electoral systems. For example, a state with a bicameral parliament may choose a winner-take-all system for elections to the lower body and a variant of the proportional representation for elections to the upper body.

Where the information is obtainable, the articles provide a brief discussion of the government institution or authority responsible for conducting the election process, and the court or tribunal responsible for adjudicating in the event of electoral disputes.. In most states of the Arab region, responsibility for elections is assigned to the executive branch, usually the Ministry of Interior. In some states a specialized court, such as a constitutional court, performs the task of settling disputes.

The articles also provide information about the laws governing political parties and the manner in which political parties obtain licenses from the government. In some states there is a specialized committee charged with this task. Finally, the articles provide information about the most recently held elections in each state. Statistics about voter turnout and vote shares are obtained from government sources or culled from United Nations, United Nations Development Program, and Inter-Parliamentary Union websites. When available, links to texts of relevant laws, constitutions, governmental institution websites, and political party websites have been provided. Readers requiring more information about elections at the sub-national levels are advised to consult the Decentralization articles also found in POGAR.

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