How do regimes respond to failures of electoral integrity – especially when public concern and disaffection rises about flawed or failed contests? This chapter sets out the theoretical argument addressing this complex issue, suggesting that public discontent with electoral malpractices can lead to several possible scenarios: the response may be one of institutional stasis (no fundamental change to the status quo, if discontent quickly fades, incumbent veto players resist change, and other problems predominate on the policy agenda), reform concessions (and thus pro-democratic institutional change, especially where governing elites and parliamentary parties are divided, and a coalition mobilizes public support for change), state repression (and further crackdown on public dissent), or regime transitions (replacing the ancient regime, fueled by popular uprisings from below and opposition mobilization). Predicting each of these scenarios remains a difficult puzzle where key pieces of the jigsaw are often missing from the box. Rational choice models provide some analytical clarity while case studies provide further insights, although revealing far messier and more complex underlying processes than parsimonious theoretical models suggest. Our partial and incomplete understanding of this process, more than most parts of this book, remains a work in progress.
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