Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

D-Minus Elections: The Politics and Norms of International Election Observation

  • Judith Kelley (a1)
Abstract

As international election monitors have grown active worldwide, their announcements have gained influence. Sometimes, however, they endorse highly flawed elections. Because their leverage rests largely on their credibility, this is puzzling. Understanding the behavior of election monitors is important because they help the international community to evaluate the legitimacy of governments and because their assessments inform the data used by scholars to study democracy. Furthermore, election monitors are also particularly instructive to study because the variety of both intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations that observe elections makes it possible to compare them across many countries and political contexts. This study uses a new dataset of 591 international election-monitoring missions. It shows that despite their official mandate to focus on election norms, monitors do not only consider the elections' quality; their assessments also reflect the interests of their member states or donors as well as other tangential organizational norms. Thus, even when accounting as best as possible for the nature and level of irregularities in an election, monitors' concerns about democracy promotion, violent instability, and organizational politics and preferences are associated with election endorsement. The study also reveals differences in the behavior of intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations and explains why neither can pursue their core objectives single-mindedly.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Abbink, Jon. 2000. Introduction: Rethinking Democratization and Election Observation. In Election Observation and Democratization in Africa, edited by Abbink, Jon and Hesseling, Gerti, 117. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Alesina, Alberto, and Dollar, David. 2000. Who Gives Foreign Aid to Whom and Why? Journal of Economic Growth 5 (1):3363.
Anglin, Douglas. 1992. International Monitoring as a Mechanism for Conflict Resolution in Southern Africa. Paper presented at the Centre for Foreign Relations' 7th International Conference on Peace and Security in Southern Africa, Arusha, Tanzania.
Barnett, Michael N., and Finnemore, Martha. 2001. The Politics, Power, and Pathologies of International Organizations. International Organization 53 (4):699732.
Bjornlund, Eric C. 2004. Beyond Free and Fair: Monitoring Elections and Building Democracy. Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press.
Bob, Clifford. 2002. Merchants of Morality. Foreign Policy 129 (March/April):3645.
Brown, L. David, and Moore, Mark H.. 2001. Accountability, Strategy, and International Nongovernmental Organizations. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 30 (3):569–87.
Brown, Stephen. 2001. Authoritarian Leaders and Multiparty Elections in Africa: How Foreign Donors Help to Keep Kenya's Daniel Arap Moi in Power. Third World Quarterly 22 (5):725–39.
Carothers, Thomas. 1997. The Observers Observed. Journal of Democracy 8 (3):1731.
Carothers, Thomas. 2006. The Backlash Against Democracy Promotion. Foreign Affairs 85 (2):5568.
Carpenter, R. Charli. 2007. Studying Issue (Non)-Adoption in Transnational Advocacy Networks. International Organization 61 (3):643–67.
Carter Center. 1997. The Observation of the 1997 Jamaican Elections. Atlanta, Ga.: Carter Center.
Clark, Ann Marie. 2001. Diplomacy of Conscience: Amnesty International and Changing Human Rights Norms. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Commission of the European Union. 2007. EU EOM Reporting Guidelines. Available from ⟨http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/human_rights/election_observation/docs/2007_eu_eom_reporting_guidelines_en.pdf⟩. Accessed 2 July 2009.
Commonwealth Secretariat. 1993. Presidential, Parliamentary and Civic Elections in Kenya, 29 December 1992: The Report of the Commonwealth Observer Group. London: Commonwealth Secretariat.
Commonwealth Secretariat. 2000. The Parliamentary Elections in Zimbabwe, 24–25 June 2000: The Report of the Commonwealth Observer Group. London: Commonwealth Secretariat.
Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. 1990. Conference on the Human Dimension of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Copenhagen: Document of the Second Meeting September 3. U.S. Department of State Dispatch.
Cooley, Alexander, and Ron, James. 2002. The NGO Scramble: Organizational Insecurity and the Political Economy of Transnational Action. International Security 27 (1):539.
Downie, Sue. 2000. Cambodia's 1998 Election: Understanding Why it Was Not a ‘Miracle on the Mekong’ Australian Journal of International Affairs 54 (1):4361.
Elklit, Jørgen, and Reynolds, Andrew. 2002. The Impact of Election Administration on the Legitimacy of Emerging Democracies: A New Comparative Politics Research Agenda. Commonwealth & Comparative Politics 40 (2):86119.
Elklit, Jørgen, and Reynolds, Andrew. 2005. A Framework for the Systematic Study of Election Quality. Democratization 12 (2):147–62.
Elklit, Jørgen, and Svensson, Palle. 1997. What Makes Elections Free and Fair? Journal of Democracy 8 (3):3246.
European Commission. 2007. Compendium of International Standards for Elections. Brussels, Belgium.
European Union Observation Unit. 2000. Elections in Zimbabwe, 24–25 June 2000, Interim statement, Pierre Schori, Head of E.U. Election Observation Mission.
Fawn, Rick. 2006. Battle over the Box: International Election Observation Missions, Political Competition and Retrenchment in the Post-Soviet Space. International Affairs 82 (6):1133–53.
Finnemore, Martha, and Sikkink, Kathryn. 1998. International Norm Dynamics and Political Change. International Organization 52 (4):887917.
Foeken, Dick, and Dietz, Ton. 2000. Of Ethnicity, Manipulation and Observation: The 1992 and 1997 Elections in Kenya. In Election Observation and Democratization in Africa, edited by Abbink, Jon and Hesseling, Gerti, 122–49. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Geisler, Gisela. 1993. Fair? What Has Fairness Got to Do with It? Vagaries of Election Observations and Democratic Standards. Journal of Modern African Studies 31 (4):613–37.
Goeman, Henk E., Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede, and Chiozza, Giacomo. 2009. Introducing Archigos: A Data Set of Political Leaders. Journal of Peace Research 46 (2):269–83.
Hyde, Susan Dayton. 2006. Observing Norms: Explaining the Causes and Consequences of Internationally Monitored Elections. Ph.D. diss., University of California San Diego.
Hyde, Susan Dayton. 2007. The Observer Effect in International Politics: Evidence from a Natural Experiment. World Politics 60 (1):3763.
International Crisis Group. 1996. Elections in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Europe Report No. 16. 22 September 1996. Available at ⟨http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=1567&l=1⟩. Accessed 2 July 2009.
International Republican Institute. 1993. Follow up Statement IRI Observer Mission, Kenya General Election 29-12-1992. Washington, D.C.
International Republican Institute. 1999. Kingdom of Cambodia Parliamentary Elections July 26, 1998: Observation Report. February 1999. Available at ⟨http://www.iri.org/asia/cambodia/pdfs/Cambodia's%201998%20Parliamentary%20Elections.pdf⟩. Accessed 2 July 2009.
Joint International Observer Group. 1998. Press Release. Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Keck, Margaret E., and Sikkink, Kathryn. 1998. Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.
Kelley, Judith. 2004. Ethnic Politics in Europe: The Power of Norms and Incentives. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Kelley, Judith. 2008a. Assessing the Complex Evolution of Norms: The Rise of International Election Monitoring. International Organization 62 (2):221–55.
Kelley, Judith. 2008b. The More the Merrier? The Effects of Having Multiple International Election Monitoring Organizations. Perspectives on Politics 7 (1):5964.
Kelley, Judith. 2008c. The Supply and Demand for International Election Monitoring. Working paper. Available at ⟨http://www.duke.edu/web/diem/docs/Supply%20and%20Demand.pdf⟩. Accessed 2 July 2009. Durham, N.C.: Project on International Election Monitoring, Duke University.
King, Gary, Tomz, Michael, and Wittenberg, Jason. 2000. Making the Most of Statistical Analyses: Improving Interpretation and Presentation. American Journal of Political Science 44 (2):341–55.
Kumar, Krishna. 1998. Postconflict Elections, Democratization, and International Assistance. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner.
Laakso, Liisa. 2002. The Politics of International Election Observation: The Case of Zimbabwe in 2000. Journal of Modern African Studies 40 (3):437–64.
Löwenhardt, John. 2005. A Clash of Observations. Helsinki Monitor 16 (1):13.
Marshall, Monty G., Jaggers, Keith, and Gurr, Ted Robert. 2006. Polity IV Project: Political Regime Characteristics and Transitions, 1800–2004. Current version available at ⟨http://www.systemicpeace.org/polity/polity4.htm⟩. Accessed 2 July 2009.
McCoy, Jennifer. 1993. Mediating Democracy: A New Role for International Actors. In New World Order: Social and Economic Implications, edited by Bruce, David C., 129–40. Atlanta: Georgia State University Business Press.
McCoy, Jennifer. 2004. What Really Happened in Venezuela? Economist 4 September, 38–40.
McCoy, Jennifer, Garber, Larry, and Pastor, Robert. 1991. Making Peace by Observing and Mediating Elections. Journal of Democracy 2 (4):102–14.
Meernik, James, Krueger, Eric L., and Poe, Steven C.. 1998. Testing Models of US Foreign Policy: Foreign Aid During and After the Cold War. Journal of Politics 60 (1):6385.
National Democratic Institute. 1999. The July 26, 1998 Cambodian National Assembly Elections. Washington, D.C. Available at ⟨http://www.ndi.org/node/13565⟩. Accessed 2 July 2009.
Nielson, Daniel L., and Tierney, Michael J.. 2003. Delegation to International Organizations: Agency Theory and World Bank Environmental Reform. International Organization 57 (2):241–76.
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). 2000. Final Report on the Parliamentary Elections in the Russian Federation, 19 December 1999. Available at ⟨http://www.osce.org/documents/odihr/2000/02/1454_en.pdf⟩. Accessed 2 July 2009. Warsaw, Poland: Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Padilla, David, and Houppert, Elizabeth. 1993. International Election Observing: Enhancing the Principle of Free and Fair Elections. Emory International Law Review 7:73132.
Reuters. 2007. EU Condemns Pre-election Violence in Kenya. 21 December 2007. Available at ⟨http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL2120415120071221?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews⟩. Accessed 2 July 2009.
Riley, Christopher A. 1997. Neither Free Nor Fair: The 1996 Bosnian Elections and the Failure of the U.N. Election-monitoring Mission. Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 30 (5):1173–214.
Roth, Kenneth. 2008. Despots Masquerading as Democrats, World Report 2008. Available at ⟨http://www.hrw.org/legacy/wr2k8/introduction/introduction.pdf⟩. Accessed 2 July 2009. New York: Human Rights Watch.
Santa-Cruz, Arturo. 2005. Constitutional Structures, Sovereignty, and the Emergence of Norms: The Case of International Election Monitoring. International Organization 59 (3):663–93.
Schedler, Andreas. 2002. The Menu of Manipulation. Journal of Democracy 13 (2):3650.
Sell, Susan K., and Prakash, Aseem. 2004. Using Ideas Strategically: The Contest Between Business and NGO Networks in Intellectual Property Rights. International Studies Quarterly 48 (1):143–75.
Sikkink, Kathryn. 2002. Restructuring World Politics: The Limits and Asymmetries of Soft Power. In Restructuring World Politics: Transnational Social Movements, Networks, and Norms, edited by Khagram, Sanjeev, Riker, James V., and Sikkink, Kathryn, 301–18. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Stone, Randall W. 2002. Lending Credibility: The International Monetary Fund and the Post-Communist Transition. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Stone, Randall W. 2004. The Political Economy of IMF Lending in Africa. American Political Science Review 98 (4):577–91.
Stone, Randall W. 2008. The Scope of IMF Conditionality. International Organization 62 (4):589620.
United Nations. 2005. Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and Code of Conduct for International Election Observers. Available at ⟨http://www.idea.int/publications/other/upload/dec_obs_coc.pdf⟩. Accessed 2 July 2009.
United States Census Bureau. 2006. International Data Base (IDB). Total Midyear Population Data. Available at ⟨http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/idb/index.php⟩. Accessed July 2006.
United States Department of State, Bureau of Democracy. 1978–2004. Human Rights, and Labor. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Washington D.C.
van Kessel, Ineke. 2000. Stability or Democracy: On the Role of Monitors, Media and Miracles. In Election Observation and Democratization in Africa, edited by Abbink, Jon and Hesseling, Gerti, 5075. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
World Bank, 2006. World Development Indicators. Official development assistance and official aid in current US$. Available at ⟨http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/DATASTATISTICS/0,,contentMDK:21725423~pagePK:64133150~piPK:64133175~theSitePK:239419,00.html⟩. Accessed July 2006.
World Trade Organization. 2006. Time Series Data. Available at ⟨http://stat.wto.org/StatisticalProgram/WSDBStatProgramSeries.aspx?Language=E⟩. Accessed July 2006.
Zakaria, Fareed. 1997. The Rise of Illiberal Democracy. Foreign Affairs 76 (6):2243.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Organization
  • ISSN: 0020-8183
  • EISSN: 1531-5088
  • URL: /core/journals/international-organization
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed