Information and Self-Enforcing Democracy: The Role of International Election Observation

45 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2008 Last revised: 20 Mar 2015

See all articles by Susan D. Hyde

Susan D. Hyde

University of California, Berkeley

Nikolay Marinov

University of Mannheim - Department of Political Science

Date Written: February 20, 2013

Abstract

What motivates leaders to hold democratic elections? Can international actors help facilitate self-enforcing democracy? This article argues that when democracy is not yet institutionalized, leaders have little incentive to push for clean elections, in part because they are likely to face accusations of fraud from domestic opposition groups regardless of their true behavior. Reputable international election observers can facilitate self-enforcing democracy by providing credible information about the quality of elections, thus increasing the ability of citizens to coordinate against the regime when election fraud occurs, and discrediting \sore loser" protests. Patterns of post-election protests are consistent with the argument, including that post-election protests are more likely and last longer following negative reports from international observers. The implication is that international election observers help promote democracy by making post-election protest more accurate in the short term, thereby increasing incentives for leaders to hold democratic elections in the long term.

Keywords: elections, international dimensions of democratization, self-enforcing democracy, post-election protest, democracy promotion

Suggested Citation

Hyde, Susan D. and Marinov, Nikolay, Information and Self-Enforcing Democracy: The Role of International Election Observation (February 20, 2013). International Organization, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1266678 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1266678

Susan D. Hyde (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

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

Nikolay Marinov

University of Mannheim - Department of Political Science ( email )

Mannheim, D-68131
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.nikolaymarinov.com/

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