Public Trust in Elections: The Role of Election Administration Autonomy and Media Freedom

38 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2016

See all articles by Nicholas Kerr

Nicholas Kerr

Michigan State University

Anna Lührmann

Göteborg University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: September 2016

Abstract

As multiparty elections have become a global norm, scholars and policy experts regard public trust in elections as vital for regime legitimacy. However, very few cross-national studies have examined the consequences of electoral manipulation, including the manipulation of election administration and the media, on citizens’ trust in elections. This paper addresses this gap by exploring how autonomy of election management bodies (EMBs) and media freedom individually and conjointly shape citizens’ trust in elections. Citizens are more likely to express confidence in elections when EMBs display de-facto autonomy, and less likely to do so when media entities disseminate information independent of government control. Additionally, we suggest that EMB autonomy may not have a positive effect on public trust in elections if media freedom is low. Empirical findings based on recent survey data on public trust in 47 elections and expert data on de-facto EMB autonomy and media freedom support our hypotheses.

Keywords: election integrity, electoral management bodies, media freedom, electoral manipulation, democracy, public opinion

Suggested Citation

Kerr, Nicholas and Lührmann, Anna, Public Trust in Elections: The Role of Election Administration Autonomy and Media Freedom (September 2016). V-Dem Working Paper 2016:36. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2845187 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2845187

Nicholas Kerr (Contact Author)

Michigan State University ( email )

Agriculture Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824-1122
United States

Anna Lührmann

Göteborg University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Göteborg, S-405 30
Sweden

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