Democracy Promotion and Electoral Quality: A Disaggregated Analysis
31 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2020
Date Written: September 2020
The international community spends significant sums of money on democracy promotion and support, focusing especially on producing competitive and transparent electoral environments in the developing world. In theory, this aid empowers a variety of actors, increasing competition and government responsiveness. Most efforts to determine the effect of democracy aid, however, have focused on how aggregate measures of democracy, and broad concepts, such as electoral competition or media freedom, respond to aid efforts. We argue that to fully understand the effect of aid on democratization one must consider how democracy aid affects specific country institutions. Building on theory from the democratization and democracy promotion literature, we specify more precise causal linkages between democracy assistance and electoral quality. Specifically, we hypothesize about the effects of democracy aid on the implementation and quality of elections. We test these hypotheses using V-Dem's detailed elections measures, using Finkel, Perez-Linan & Seligson's (2007) data and modeling strategy, to examine the impact of democracy aid. Intriguingly, we find that there is no consistent relationship between democracy and governance aid and the improvement of specific micro-level indicators of democratic institutions or election quality, but that aggregate measures still capture a relationship between aid and democracy. We then investigate the possibility that empirical relationships between aid and democracy may not re aid-induced democratization, but may instead reflect investments countries make in regimes they observe democratizing.
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