Information and Self-Enforcing Democracy: The Role of International Election Observation
45 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2008 Last revised: 20 Mar 2015
Date Written: February 20, 2013
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: Suggested Citation