Independent Electoral Management Bodies and International Election Observer Missions: Any Impact on the Observed Level of Democracy? A Conceptual Framework

28 Pages Posted: 27 May 2008 Last revised: 18 Jul 2014

See all articles by Anne van Aaken

Anne van Aaken

University of Hamburg, Law School; Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

Abstract

What kind of institutions are thus needed to stabilize and foster democracy? Much of the institutional and legal surrounding of elections has been subject to research. Two institutional variables have been neglected though, specifically in empirical research: Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) and International Observer Missions (EOMs). Can EMBs and EOMs foster free and fair elections? If yes, under what conditions? And what kind of competences are needed for them? We hypothesize that both can become crucial institutions for free and fair elections. Whereas independent central banks or audit courts control special issue areas in order to take certain decision out of the realm of politics, EMBs control the moment of the set-up of government - the election, when conflicts of interest of politicians are at its peak. Although other kinds of independent administrative agencies have been the subject of political science and economic research, EMBs and EOMs have been neglected.

This article undertakes to outline a conceptual framework for testing various hypotheses on the institutional set-up of EMBs. Hypothesizing that de iure and de facto independence of EMBs foster fair elections, the detailed institutional set-up of EMBs as independent variable is outlined in order to test for the level of democracy as a dependent variable. Furthermore, the importance of EOMs as well as their interaction effect with EMBs is analyzed. Though by now EOMs are sent to almost any country with elections, their impact has not been analyzed in an encompassing way in spite of that the mission are intensified in their work, have become more costly and their verdicts are gaining ever more publicity.

Keywords: Independent Administrative Agencies, Electoral Commission, Democracy, International Election Observation, Positive Political Theory

JEL Classification: K0, K3, H1, H7

Suggested Citation

van Aaken, Anne, Independent Electoral Management Bodies and International Election Observer Missions: Any Impact on the Observed Level of Democracy? A Conceptual Framework. Published in: 20 Constitutional Political Economy, Issue 3/4 (2009), pp. 296-322.; U. of St. Gallen Law & Economics Working Paper No. 2008-07. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1137518

Anne Van Aaken (Contact Author)

University of Hamburg, Law School ( email )

Johnsallee 35
Hamburg, 20148
Germany

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany

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