Which Elections Can Be Lost?

42 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2010 Last revised: 26 Feb 2013

See all articles by Susan D. Hyde

Susan D. Hyde

University of California, Berkeley

Nikolay Marinov

University of Houston - Department of Political Science

Date Written: August 4, 2011


The concept of electoral competition is relevant to a variety of research agendas in political science, yet the question of how to measure electoral competition has received little direct attention. We revisit the distinction proposed by Giovanni Sartori between competition as a structure or rule of the game and competitiveness as an outcome of that game, and argue that to understand which elections can be lost (and therefore when parties and leaders are potentially threatened by electoral accountability), scholars may be better off considering the full range of elections where competition is allowed. We provide a dataset of all national elections between 1945 and 2006 and a measure of whether each election event is structured such that competition is possible. We outline the pitfalls of other measures used by scholars to de fine the potential for electoral competition, and show that such methods can lead to biased or incomplete findings. The new global data on elections and the minimal conditions necessary for electoral competition are introduced, followed by an empirical illustration of the differences between the proposed measure of competition and existing methods used to infer the existence of competition.

Keywords: elections, competition, electoral authoritarianism, hybrid regimes

Suggested Citation

Hyde, Susan D. and Marinov, Nikolay, Which Elections Can Be Lost? (August 4, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1540711 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1540711

Susan D. Hyde (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

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

Nikolay Marinov

University of Houston - Department of Political Science ( email )

TX 77204-3011
United States

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

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