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Process or Candidate: The International Community and the Demand for Electoral Integrity


Why do outside powers intervene in other countries’ elections? We distinguish between two types of electoral interventions: interventions in favor of the democratic process and interventions in favor of particular candidates and parties. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, outside powers often simultaneously pursue interventions of both types. Using a formal model of elections with bias, we argue that outside powers will always invest some resources in particular candidates, if they care about the differences in their proposed policies. Spending on the electoral process is driven by liberalism concerns and geopolitical interests. In some cases, liberal powers might decrease their amount of support for the electoral process if this engagement works against their favored candidate. We also consider the case of “election wars.” These occur when two outside powers simultaneously intervene on different sides of an election. Some of the observable implications of the model are briefly demonstrated using a new and original dataset.

Corresponding author
Johannes Bubeck is Doctoral Student, Department of Economics, University of Mannheim, L7 3–5, 68161 Mannheim (
Nikolay Marinov is Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Mannheim, A5 6, 68161 Mannheim (
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Authors’ names in alphabetical order. We thank participants at seminars at the University of Nebraska (Lincoln), State University of New York (Albany), the University of Essex, the Naval Post-Graduate School, Stanford, at the miniconference on “Great Powers and Democracy” at APSA 2016 (Philadelphia), and four anonymous referees for helpful feedback. We thank Christian Schneider, Thomas Bräuninger, Thomas Däubler, Hans Peter Grüner, Thomas Gschwend, Thomas König, Pippa Norris, and Jason Eichorst for help during different stages of the work. Our deepest thanks go to our research assistants Vinicus Lindoso, Baobao Zhang, Dennis Hammerschmidt, Marcela Ibáñez, and Kai Jäger who were resourceful and professional throughout. Support for early stages of this research was provided by Macmillan Center for International and Area Studies, Yale University, and was continued by the Mannheim Center for European Social Research (MZES), and the German Research Foundation (DFG Grant No. MA 7209/1-1). N. Marinov thanks the Electoral Integrity Project, University of Sydney, for support with the writing. J. Bubeck acknowledges support by the German Research Foundation (DFG) via SFB 884. The usual disclaimer applies. Supplemental appendixes and an interactive game are available at

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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
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