The electoral tango : the evolution of electoral integrity in competitive authoritarian regimes
Title: The electoral tango : the evolution of electoral integrity in competitive authoritarian regimes
Author: BIRCH, Sarah
Series/Number: EUI MWP LS; 2016/02
In recent decades, the politics of electoral reform has revolved mainly around the implementation of democratic electoral principles rather than around the principles themselves. This means that electoral authoritarian leaders tend to employ forms of electoral abuse that entail giving unfair advantage to pro-regime electoral competitors, rather than excluding either voters or competitors from the electoral arena altogether. When such regimes become weakened, they tend to ramp up forms of manipulation that favour pro-regime political forces. This deterioration in election quality often serves as a focal point which mobilises both domestic and international pressure for electoral reform, as the erosion of established electoral rights generates grievances. Under the right circumstances, such mobilisation can lead to step changes in the quality of elections. This suggests that improvements in electoral integrity commonly follow increases in fraud, in a one-step-back-two-steps-forward pattern which is in several ways quite distinct from existing understandings of the relationship between elections and democratisation. This model, which I term the 'electoral tango', has implications for how we evaluate and address electoral malpractice in the contemporary world.
Subject: Electoral tango; Electoral abuse; Authoritarian regimes
The lecture was delivered on 17 February 2016.