Catch Us if You Can: Election Monitoring and International Norm Diffusion

American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 55, No. 2, pp. 356-369, 2011

Posted: 23 Jun 2008 Last revised: 20 Dec 2011

See all articles by Susan D. Hyde

Susan D. Hyde

University of California, Berkeley

Date Written: April 1, 2011

Abstract

Why has the decision to invite foreign election observers become an international norm? More generally, how do international norms develop in the absence of incentives for cooperation or activism by norm entrepreneurs? Motivated by the case of election observation, I argue that international norms can be generated through a diffusely motivated signaling process. Responding to increased benefits associated with being democratic, international election observation was initiated by democratizing governments as a signal of a government’s commitment to democracy. Increased democracy-contingent benefits gave other “true-democrats” the incentive to invite observers, resulting in a widespread belief that all true-democrats invite election monitors. Consequently, not inviting observers became an unambiguous signal that a government was not democratizing, giving even pseudo-democrats reason to invite observers and risk a negative report. I evaluate this theory with an original global dataset on elections and election observation, 1960-2006.

Keywords: international norms, elections, election observation, signaling

Suggested Citation

Hyde, Susan D., Catch Us if You Can: Election Monitoring and International Norm Diffusion (April 1, 2011). American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 55, No. 2, pp. 356-369, 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1150262

Susan D. Hyde (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
5106424533 (Phone)

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