International Election Support: Helping or Hindering Democratic Elections?

Publication Date: 
14 Feb 2011

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Analyzing and explaining why an election is democratic, or not, has fascinated scholars for decades. Methodologies, used to measure the freeness and fairness of the electoral process, are plentiful and elaborate. However, it’s only relatively recently that the work of the election management body (EMB), responsible for organizing elections, formed an integral part of the analysis. Still, the influence international election support potentially has on the electoral process has largely been ignored to date. EMBs often accept both financial and technical advice from international organizations and actors. In addition, international election observation missions representing a host of various international organizations have become part of the regular electoral fabric in many countries. Hundreds of millions are spent each year on aiding elections, sending election advisors and thousands of election observers; however, the impact these activities have on the electoral process has largely been overlooked by scholars. Based on an analysis of the potential effectiveness of various modalities of electoral support utilized by international donors to promote democracy, this paper seeks to identify whether improvements to those democracy-promoting tools are warranted.

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