ERIS at 20

September 2012

ERIS celebrated its 20th birthday on August 11th, the anniversary of its registration in 1992. David Mathieson, ERIS Treasurer, looks back:

Jean Bradshaw MBE, our founder and first Executive Chairman, remembers finding a file full of letters from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) while working in the Electoral Reform Society in the early 1990s.  These turned out to be requests from countries emerging from the fall of the Soviet Union asking for help in developing democracy and running elections for the first time in generations.

The Electoral Reform Society was unable to respond to these requests: it had neither the people nor the money. But Jean decided to try something new.  She called the FCO and persuaded them to give her a small grant, and she searched the Society for young interns who were willing to travel.  Surprisingly, the first missions were a success, and led to further work in the following months.

Jean Bradshaw receiving her MBE from Her Majesty the Queen

Electoral Reform Consultancy Services was formed on 11th August 1992 and was soon renamed ERIS, after the ancient Greek goddess of discord. ERIS struggled at first but in 1994 employed its first full-time consultant, Andrew Bruce (who now returns in September as our new Executive Director).

ERIS grew slowly over the years, providing election observers and experts across eastern Europe and Africa, until it was restructured as a ‘company limited by guarantee’ in 2001. Jean Bradshaw was awarded an MBE for her work in 2003, and retired in 2004. Now aged over 80, she still keeps a close eye on ERIS and its work.
Thank you Jean, and Happy Birthday ERIS.