Democracy's Core Institution: Clean Elections Across the World

18 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2024 Last revised: 29 May 2024

See all articles by Marina Nord

Marina Nord

University of Gothenburg - V-Dem Institute

Juraj Medzihorsky

Durham University - School of Government and International Affairs; University of Gothenburg - School of Business, Economics and Law

Staffan I. Lindberg

University of Gothenburg - Varieties of Democracy Institute; University of Gothenburg - Department of Political Science

Date Written: March 2024

Abstract

This report takes a closer look at a core institution of democracy, i.e. elections. Using the V-Dem Clean Elections Index and its subcomponents, we examine the state of clean elections across the world for 2000-2023. We show that:
• The integrity of elections is now increasingly threatened both in democracies and autocracies.
• Free- and fairness of elections and EMB autonomy are most frequently under attack, worsening substantially in 45 and 42 countries, respectively.
• 61% of all deteriorations in the integrity of elections since 2000, are found in countries that are now classified as autocracies.
• EMB autonomy is the most frequently attacked aspect of elections in autocracies. 74% of all declines in EMB autonomy correspond to autocracies.
• The quality of elections is also increasingly worsening in democracies, with the level of electoral violence and the free- and fairness of elections deteriorating the most.
• The intensity of attacks on the EMB autonomy separates democracies from autocracies the most clearly, suggesting that their autonomy is a bedrock of electoral integrity.
• Autocratizing countries have dramatic declines on the Clean Elections Index. Democratizing countries show noticeable increases. Attacks on elections are thus part and parcel of autocratization process, and improving electoral integrity is critical for rekindling democracy.
• Over 60 countries are holding national elections in 2024. Of these, 31 are worsening on their democracy levels, while only 3 are improving.
• Protecting electoral integrity is important. Elections are critical events that can either reinforce or counteract an autocratization trend.

Keywords: elections, electoral integrity, democracy, autocracy

Suggested Citation

Nord, Marina and Medzihorsky, Juraj and Lindberg, Staffan I., Democracy's Core Institution: Clean Elections Across the World (March 2024). V-Dem Institute Report, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4782687 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4782687

Marina Nord (Contact Author)

University of Gothenburg - V-Dem Institute ( email )

Gothenburg, 40530
Sweden

Juraj Medzihorsky

Durham University - School of Government and International Affairs ( email )

Durham, DH1 3HP
United Kingdom

University of Gothenburg - School of Business, Economics and Law ( email )

Vasagatan 1
Goteborg, 40530
Sweden

Staffan I. Lindberg

University of Gothenburg - Varieties of Democracy Institute ( email )

Sprängkullsgatan 19
Gothenburg, Gothenburg 405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://v-dem.net

University of Gothenburg - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Gothenburg, S-405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se

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