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Research seminars

Electoral Integrity Project Lunchtime Research Seminars

Semester 2 2015

When: from 11.45 am to 1.30 pm on Tuesdays every week, 2nd semester 2015

Where: Electoral Integrity Project Boardroom, 275 Merewether Building (H.04), University of Sydney, NSW 2006. Map

Logistics: The seminar is an open event and staff and graduate research students are welcome to attend. Lunch and refreshments are available on a first-come, first-served basis.  Seminar papers will be posted one week before each presentation.

Papers: Copies of these presentations will be available for download in the working paper series. Videos will be posted on the EIP YouTube page.

2nd Semester 2015

 Date2016 Speaker Topic Download Paper View Video
8 March 2016  Dr Susanne Schmeidl (University of New South Wales)

Discussant: Professor Astri Suhrke (Chr. Michelsen Institute, NO)
Chair: Dr Ferran Martínez i Coma (University of Sydney)
The Contradictions of Democracy in Afghanistan: Elites, Elections and “People’s Rule" post-2001

The limited progress of democratisation in Afghanistan must be seen through the lens of elite-versus-citizen analysis. While Afghan elites have treated elections instrumentally for narrow purposes to achieve or consolidate power, Afghan citizens have increasingly demonstrated support for the electoral institution. This article challenges a culturalist explanation that suggests limited experience with democracy as well as religious and cultural values can hamper democratisation. Instead, it proposes a political-institutional rationale that presents two key arguments about the problems with democratization in Afghanistan. First that there was a fundamental mismatch between the new institutions developed under the auspices of the US and international community and local conditions. Secondly, Afghan elites managed to manipulate these new institutions in their struggle for power creating negative hybridity in the form of neopatrimonialism. The result is a widening gap between Afghan citizens and elites, and by extension the international community that is seen as colluding with local elites under the guise of democracy assistance. The future of democracy in Afghanistan depends on elites catching up with the Afghan population in embracing democracy for what it is – demo kratia – the rule of the people.

Keywords: Afghanistan; Democratisation; Elections; Corruption; Political-Institutional; Elites; Citizens; neopatrimonialism

15 March 2016 Dr Lee Morgenbesser (Griffith University)

Discussant: Dr Aim Sinpeng (University of Sydney)
Chair: Professor Pippa Norris (Sydney and Harvard Universities)
Electoral Legitimation and Autocratic Stability: Timing is Everything?

This paper accounts for how authoritarian regimes employ flawed elections to achieve longevity.

Seeking to prioritise the contribution of legitimation to autocratic stability, it argues that ruling parties hold de jure competitive elections to claim what is termed autonomous legitimation. This denotes the feigning of conformity to the established rules of the constitution and the shared beliefs of citizens. Regardless of overall turnout and support, ruling parties aim to exploit the normative and symbolic value of elections in order to establish moral grounds for compliance within a dominant-subordinate relationship.

In support of this argument, the case of Singapore’s People’s Action Party (PAP) is analysed in historical and contemporary terms. Since 1959, the PAP has used precisely-timed elections to extract one or more mandate types from citizens and, by extension, claim legitimacy. In particular, it has sort a mandate based on its response to an event, execution of a policy and/or collection of a reward. In the long run, autocratic stability has been achieved through a process of reciprocal reinforcement, which has combined autonomous legitimation with targeted co-optation and low intensity coercion. To conclude, the paper addresses what this finding means for electoral integrity in Singapore and beyond.

This seminar is co-organised by the Electoral Integrity Project and the Authoritarian Politics Research Cluster at USYD's Department of Government and International Relations. 

22 March 2016  Professor Pippa Norris (Sydney and Harvard Universities)

Discussant: Professor Jørgen Elklit (Aarhus University) 

Chair: Dr Alessandro Nai (University of Sydney)

Electoral Integrity and Electoral Systems

For The Oxford Handbook on Electoral Systems eds. Eric Herron, Robert Pekkanen and Mathew Shugart. NY/Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Do formal electoral systems determine how far contests meet international standards of electoral integrity? This question touches on some classic debates in the literature seeking to understand the reasons underlying electoral reforms and the effects of these changes. To examine these issues, Part I develops the conceptual framework to unpack the meaning of electoral integrity. Part II builds upon this understanding and sets out several alternative theoretical arguments why list proportional representation (PR) electoral systems are generally believed to strengthen of electoral integrity more effectively than majoritarian rules. Part III explains the evidence and data, including how electoral integrity is measured worldwide through the rolling expert survey on Perceptions of Electoral Integrity. Part IV presents the results of the analysis. The conclusion in Part V considers the findings and implications for strengthening electoral integrity and democracy around the globe.

Keywords: Electoral integrity, electoral fraud, electoral manipulation, electoral systems.


29 March 2016  Professor Mark Franklin (Trinity College)

Professor Nikolay Marinov (University of Mannheim)
Chair: Professor Pippa Norris (Sydney and Harvard Universities)

Does electoral integrity yield more responsive government?

This paper investigates party congruence with voters in left-right terms over the period of a quarter century since the late 1980s. By aggregating individual-level data collected for many countries over a long time-period to the birth-year-cohort level, and in conjunction with measures of electoral integrity created by the Electoral Integrity Project and perhaps from other sources, I attempt to determine whether differences in electoral integrity correspond to differences in party responsiveness to changes in voter support and to evolutions in voter preferences.

The initial version of the paper focuses on West European countries, but I hope to expand this to post-communist countries that are members of the European Union and for which data are available as a result of successive studies of elections to the European Parliament. I hope to be able to build on this start by moving from EES data to data collected at the time of national elections in the same countries and perhaps eventually to other countries included in the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems.


5 April 2016 Dr Merete Bech Seeberg (Aarhus University)

Discussant: Dr Carolien van Ham (University of New South Wales)

Chair: Dr Ferran Martínez i Coma (University of Sydney)

Candidate selection and intra-party violence

Electoral violence is a major concern in both autocracies, democratizing regimes, and sometimes even in established democracies. But not all violence occurs between parties. Rather, much election-related violence arises as a result of intra-party competition over candidate selection prior to the national election campaign. Intra-party violence, although often emphasized in case studies, has never been systematically investigated on a cross-national basis.

This paper is the first in a special issue on intra-party violence and asks: What are the causes and triggers of intra-party violence during candidate selection processes? Taking the new literature on electoral violence as a starting point, the paper builds a framework for understanding intra-party violence during candidate selection processes. Societal factors such as ethnic fragmentation, control over coercive forces such as the military, police, and private militias, and the more general prevalence of violence (for instance in a post-conflict setting) are taken into account. But focus is also on the importance of competition (is the race close?) and stakes (how much power, control over resources, etc. will the eventual winner achieve?). In addition, factors specific to dynamics of intra-part violence, including the internal organization of the country’s major political parties, are taken into account.

In the following articles in the issue, this explanatory framework is put to the test in a number of African cases.

This paper is co-authored by Dr Merete Bech Seeberg (Aarhus University) and Professor Svend-Erik Skaaning (Aarhus University)


12 April 2016 Professor Karen Bird (McMaster University)

Professor Pippa Norris (Sydney and Harvard Universities)
Chair: Dr Alessandro Nai (University of Sydney)

Not all Created Equal: Comparing Electoral Mechanisms for Ethnic and Indigenous Representation

There is fairly widespread agreement that ethnic and indigenous minorities deserve ‘better’ political representation, but less certainty on how to get there. How can we know whether ethnic quotas or alternative non-quota forms of representation for ethnic and indigenous groups are advisable? What can we learn from the wide range of countries that have established various formal or informal electoral mechanisms to promote the numerical representation of designated ethnic or indigenous groups?

Normative theories of political representation predict that these types of electoral measures should have a positive effect on political outcomes, leading to more inclusive institutions and discourse, a greater probability of non-discriminatory policy, and enhanced trust among minority groups in political institutions and processes of governance. But there has not yet been any systematic study to assess whether these promises have been realized, or to ascertain what kinds of mechanisms work best in particular contexts.

This paper presents a framework for comparing such mechanisms across countries and assessing their effects. It begins by elucidating the institutional and political-demographic context of such mechanisms, including the way that communities of identity align with electoral rules and boundaries. It then proposes a set of strategies for assessing the relative impact and effectiveness of various mechanisms, along dimensions such as numerical/descriptive inclusion, satisfaction with democracy, perceptions of electoral integrity, voter participation, electoral competitiveness, inter-ethnic trust and cooperation, and legislative responsiveness. Measured along these dimensions, it appears that electoral mechanisms for ethnic and indigenous representation are not all created equal. This paper will serve as a template for comparing and accumulating knowledge across cases.

19 April 2016 Professor Nikolay Marinov (University of Mannheim)

Professor Mark Franklin (Trinity College)
Chair: Dr Alessandro Nai (University of Sydney)

Process or Party? How Outside Powers Compete in Elections

The project seeks to understand the conditions under which states choose to support the process of free and fair elections beyond their borders.

We know that when powerful states support democratic processes, this helps representative institutions become established. We do not know the conditions under which promoting democracy is an optimal strategy. This project argues that external interventions in elections take two principal forms: supporting specific candidates or supporting democratic processes. Election-eve statements in favor of a candidate, promises of aid, and even threats of invasion if the wrong party wins, illustrate the first, pro-candidate, type of intervention. Sending election observers, conditioning the flow of benefits to the country on clean elections, are examples of the second, pro-democracy, kind of intervention. We argue that the strategies of other states matter for the choice of policy.

Ultimately, the goal of this project is to develop fully hypotheses about elections as proxy wars among regional and global powers, and to test them in an innovative dataset. The work is the first to spell out the conditions under which international interest in elections leads to the strengthening of democratic procedures, as opposed to undermining free and fair competition. Its policy-relevance is significant. The new data will give rise to multiple spin-off projects.

 26 April 2016Dr Anaïd Flesken (University of Bristol)

Professor Karen Bird (McMaster University)
Chair: Max Grömping (University of Sydney)

Ethnicity and perceptions of electoral integrity  
with Jakob Hartl (University of Bristol)

Attitudinal research on political support consistently shows that electoral losers are less satisfied with the way democracy works in their country than electoral winners, and recent research suggests that the pattern extends to perceptions of electoral integrity: losers are more likely to report electoral malpractice than winners, and the effect is stronger if respondents lost repeatedly. Marginalized ethnic groups are, by their very definition, consistently losing, which is expected to undermine minorities’ perceptions of electoral integrity and, in the longer term, support for the political system as a whole. This paper examines ethnic status group differences in the perception of electoral integrity, using the electoral integrity battery included in the latest World Values Survey wave as well as corresponding expert assessments from the Perceptions of Electoral Integrity Index. Contrary to widespread expectations, ethnic differences are insignificant or insubstantial; differences in perceptions of electoral integrity are explained mainly by political partisanship. The results suggest, first, that substantive representation is more important than descriptive representation, even in ethnically divided societies. Second, they suggest that the winner–loser gap in political attitudes more generally is not due to a psychological “sore loser” effect after elections but to the extent to which respondents feel represented in between elections.

 3 May 2016
Moderator: Dr Alessandro Nai (University of Sydney)

Max Grömping (University of Sydney)

Miguel Angel Lara Otaola (University of Sussex) 

Andrea Fumarola (LUISS Guido Carli, University of Rome)

Graduate Roundtable

Max Gromping: Explaining media attention to domestic election monitoring initiatives

Domestic election monitoring is a major growth area of international democracy assistance. Existing studies have shown evidence that the presence of domestic observers deters or displaces electoral fraud at the micro-level (Ichino and Schündeln 2012). But less is known about longer term consequences of domestic election monitoring activities. This study contributes to this emerging literature by proposing an agenda-building model of electoral reform. As outsiders to the political system, election watch groups first need to garner media attention for their group as the necessary pre-condition to getting the issue of electoral integrity onto the public and policy agenda. While some existing studies locate the driving factors of media attention for social movements, NGOs, or interest groups mainly at the issue-level (Djerf-Pierre 2012) or characteristics of the media system (Siebert, Peterson & Schramm 1956), this study argues that organizational characteristics are crucial. In particular, it expects that media attention is positively related to the resources a group commands, its level of professionalization – in particular its ability to provide ‘information subsidies’ to journalists - and its organizational history and standing as an established and recognized social actor. It hence concurs with studies proposing a ‘power law’ of media attention – with very few resourceful, experienced and professionalized groups commanding a large amount of attention while the majority of groups go unnoticed (Danielian and Page 1994; Thrall 2006; Schlozman et al. 2012).

In investigating this thesis in a comparative perspective, the study uses new data from an organizational survey of 383 domestic election monitoring groups in 110 countries, measuring their experience, professionalization, and resources. This is combined with a measure of news attention towards these initiatives, derived from a Factiva query of newspaper articles mentioning the group in English and local-language dailies. In addition, the study draws on the Perceptions of Electoral Integrity (PEI) expert survey to monitor issue-salience, restrictions to domestic monitors, and the gatekeeping role of the media.

Miguel Otaola:To include or not to include? Party representation in electoral institutions and overall confidence in elections: A comparative study of Latin America

Existing research on the role of Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) in election credibility has focused on their degree of independence and autonomy. This article examines the extent to which the support of political parties for EMBs also matters. This support is identified by the participation of parties in the appointment of EMB members, hypothesising that when parties are included they are more supportive of the EMB and therefore assume its activities and decisions as their own. Results show that although it is positive to include political parties in the appointment process of the EMB members, not all forms of inclusion yield the same level of benefits in terms of confidence in elections. This is demonstrated through logistic and multilevel regression of results from the Parliamentary Elites of Latin America (PELA) survey.

Andrea Fumarola: The role of electoral integrity in shaping accountability: Evidence from new European democracies 

Electoral accountability has been typically identified with retrospective economic voting (Lewis-Beck and Stegmaier, 2007) even if scholars have gradually come to the point that it would not be sufficient to explain voters’ assignment of responsibility without considering other variables, in particular related to the political context (Anderson 2007). Recently, political scientists have stressed the role of procedural quality of elections in contributing to democratic legitimacy (Norris, 2014).

Low levels of political interest together with low levels of institutional and party system stability risk to undermine electoral accountability in the area. Moreover, survey data suggest that citizens’ perceptions of electoral malpractices erode trust and confidence in elected authorities, disincentive voter turnout and cause protests, undermining regime stability. Consequently, the general hypothesis is that electoral integrity would structure attitudes about electoral accountability in substantial ways, particularly in terms of confidence in electoral institutions. From this perspective, the quality of the electoral process would be able to integrate contextual factors in influencing electoral accountability in post-communist countries, filling the gap of legitimacy caused by the aforementioned factors.

Questioning the traditional assumptions of economic voting theory and demonstrating the necessity of integrating the ‘contextual variables’ to explain their influence on electoral accountability in 11 Central Eastern European EU Member States, the paper aims to show the relevance of the electoral integrity in shaping voting behavior and strengthening electoral accountability in the area employing a multilevel analysis using aggregate and individual level from the Round 6 of the World Value Survey (WVS).
Papers and handouts


2nd Semester 2015

Date 2015 Speaker Topic Download Paper View Video
12 August 2015 Professor Steven Livingston (The George Washington University)

Transnational Advocacy and Digital Technologies

In recent years, communication scholars have turned to questions concerning various digital communication platforms and social change. Studies connecting branded social media such as Twitter and Facebook and social movement and contentious politics offer one variant of this vibrant research field. Similar inquiries have been made concerning the Arab Spring.

Steven Livingston’s talk firstly expands on these themes with an examination of a wider range of digital technologies. Secondly, he shifts the focus to transnational advocacy organizations and networks. Transnational advocacy network (TAN) theory emerged in international relations theory at the cusp of the digital era in the mid-1990s. It hopes to explain transnational advocacy for environmental issues, women’s rights, and human rights. A TAN includes “those relevant actors working internationally on an issue, who are bound together by shared values, a common discourse, and dense exchanges of information and services” (Keck & Sikkink, 1998, 154-155). Livingston’s research centers on the last aspect of Keck and Sikkink’s definition concerning information and service exchange.

To date, TANs research has not taken into account the effects of the revolution in digital information technology. In the 21st century, dense exchanges of information are quite different than what Keck and Sikkink described in the 20th century. Livingston is therefore interested in two questions: 1. How has digital monitoring technology affected TANs human rights advocacy? 2. How has digital technology affected the nature of human rights advocacy organizations and TANs?

To the first point, among other technologies, Livingston considers the use of high-resolution commercial remote sensing satellites, mobile telephony and geographical information systems (GIS), and NextGen DNA analytics used to identify the remains of genocide victims and the “disappeared.” He argues that the greater scope and reach of human rights monitoring has changed issue framing and agenda setting dynamics concerning human rights. To the second point, Livingston argues that advocacy organizations in TANs include new organizational morphologies - organizational forms that rely on and are ontologically dependent on digital platforms. Lance Bennett and Alexandra Segerberg have called such organizational types “organization by communication.” In the case of human rights advocacy, one might include Syria Tracker or Wikileaks.  

25 August 2015 Professor Jeffrey Karp (University of Exeter; visiting fellow Electoral Integrity Project) 

Minding the gap between expectations and perceptions of democracy

Professor Karp’s paper is based on recent findings from the research project outlined below.

This project examines the gap between what citizens desire from democratic politics, and their perceptions of how democracy is working in their nation. At a very basic level, democratic legitimacy requires that people perceive their elections are fair, and that they offer meaningful choices. In many nations - particularly in younger democracies - there is a substantial gap between what citizens expect from democracy and what they perceive they are getting. Scholars of electoral systems have directed substantial attention at how various institutional arrangements (Anderson and Guilory 1997; Karp et al 2003) and political responsiveness (Aarts and Thomassen 2008) may affect satisfaction with democracy.

These studies often rely on a single, narrow survey question on 'satisfaction' with democracy that does not adequately measure democratic expectations or perceptions of democratic performance. The paper uses recently released European Social Survey (ESS) opinion data from 29 countries to examine factors that structure perceptions of whether or not elections are conducted fairly, and whether political parties are seen as offering clear choices. The ESS has items that measure respondent expectations about how important fair elections and distinctive parties are to democracy in general, and also ask perceptions of how such things are in their country. I use these items to create measures of the gap between what individuals expect from democracy, and what they perceive (an expectations gap).

At the national level, the gap is lowest in places such as Norway, Switzerland, and Germany, and highest in Russia, Italy and Bulgaria. I use multi-level models to test hypotheses about country-level and individual-level factors that shape these perceptions. Country-level factors include measures of electoral system, party system and public corruption. National-level party system features such as age of democracy; the effective number of parties and (lack of) disproportionality are expected to be associated with perceptions that parties offer meaningful choices, while corruption is expected to cause people to find elections not meeting expectations for fairness.

At the individual level, partisan self-interest (supporting winning a party), media use, interest, education, and other factors are accounted for. Given the literature, winners are expected to be more likely to find democracy living up to their expectations, while the better educated are expected to be less so (Dalton 1984; Norris 2011).

Preliminary analysis indicates that nearly one-third of variance in the expectations gaps are due to country-level factors, and mixed-level models indicate that party system and electoral system measures can explain where people view democracy succeeding or falling short. For example, where there are more parties or less disproportionality, we find more people holding the opinion that parties function in ways that are important for democracy in general. While this might offer hope for advocates of electoral reforms, these country-level effects on opinions appear completely swamped by corruption.

When national corruption levels are modeled, most other county-level factors are no longer significant. The paper will discuss the implications of the overwhelming role that corruption has on opinions of democracy - this is feature that has been neglected in many studies of satisfaction with democracy (albeit see Anderson and Tverdova 2003).  

15 September 2015 Professor Simon Jackman (Australian National University, Stanford University and visiting fellow at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney)

Unlisted in America

Campaigns, parties, interest groups, pollsters and political scientists increasingly rely on voter registration lists and consumer files to identify targets for registration, persuasion and mobilization, and as sampling frames for surveys. However, a sizeable proportion of the U.S. citizen population does not appear on these lists, making them invisible to list-based campaigns and research. What political consequences follow from a list-based view of the polity? How large is the unlisted population? Are their preferences ignorable?

We address this question after matching respondents to the face-to-face component of the 2012 American National Election Study (sampled by an address-based design) to voter and consumer files. At least 11% of the adult citizenry is unlisted. 1 in 5 Blacks and (citizen) Hispanics are unlisted, but just 8% of Whites. The unlisted earn less income and are less likely to have health insurance or own their own home than the listed population. The unlisted have markedly lower levels of political engagement than the listed and are much less likely to report contact with candidates and campaigns.

Yet, the unlisted have coherent policy preferences that tend to the left of listed respondents. Unlisted ANES respondents reported favoring Obama over Romney 73-27 and just 14% identify as Republicans. We find that if unregistered and unlisted people voted at comparable rates to registered people with the same level of interest in politics, both the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections would have been won by Democrats.

Clearly, the exclusion of the unlisted has important practical and normative implications for political representation, measures of public opinion, election outcomes and public policy.


6 October 2015 Professor John Keane (Sydney Democracy Network, University of Sydney)

A Short History of the Future of Elections

Professor John Keane will challenge our 'big picture' understanding of the contemporary history of elections by probing the connected trends of the universal adoption of electoral practices, the spread of various types of ‘electoral authoritarianism’ and new electoral practices 'non-Western' contexts. When elections are examined from a long-term and global perspective, can we say with any certainty that their significance and functions have changed during our generation or will change in the future?

We live in times shaped by the conviction that periodic ‘free and fair’ elections are the heart and soul of democracy. Since 1945, when only a dozen parliamentary democracies were left on our planet, elections have come to be seen widely as the best way of forming good governments, sometimes even as a ‘timeless’ and non-negotiable feature of political life. Article 21 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in December 1948, famously set the standard: ‘The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage’. 

This is the orthodoxy. Yet all’s not well in the house of elections; public fractiousness and political dissent are brewing. There are signs of rising citizen disaffection with mainstream ‘catch-all’ parties accused of failing to be all good things to all voters. Support for populist parties is rising. Experiments with ‘anti-political’, direct-action social networks are flourishing. In some quarters, voting is judged a worthless waste of time, money and energy. And more than a few democracies are shaped by the Philippines syndrome: a strangely contradictory trend marked by elections that come wrapped in intense media coverage and great public excitement mixed with bitter disappointment about the sidelining of elected governments by big banks, big money and the outsourcing of state functions to cross-border power chains. The feeling that elections are pointless manipulations by the rich and powerful finds its nadir in the whole phenomenon of ‘electoral authoritarianism’ in Russia, China, central Asia and elsewhere: the use by oligarchs of periodic elections as an instrument for consolidating arbitrary power. 

Pressured by such developments, the passion and purpose that fuelled the historic post- 1789 struggles for ‘one person, one vote’ seem to be dying, or dead. So it comes as an odd surprise that our times are equally marked by organised refusals to let hollowed-out elections get the upper hand. There are not only signs of renewed interest in making elections ‘free and fair’; many efforts are under way to multiply their forms and invest them with new meaning. 

The trends take our world of global politics into the future, towards the unknown. Since 1945, a whole new anthropology of electoral practices has taken root in such ‘non-Western’ contexts as India, Sierra Leone, Bhutan, Taiwan and Iran. The political geography of elections is changing. Global communications enable diaspora voting. National elections are witnessed by regional and global publics. Elections are exported, by force of arms. Voting in cross-border settings is spreading; it now shapes the life of organisations such as the IOC, WTO, European Parliament, Tibetan Administration and the Antarctica Treaty System. Alternative sites of elected and un-elected representation are meanwhile multiplying; monitory democracy gains ground at the expense of old-fashioned parliamentary democracy. The contours of elections are also being reshaped by crowd sourcing, election monitoring, integrity projects and the growth of micro-parties and ‘liquid’ party procedures. In more than a few global contexts, efforts to extend votes to the dead and the unborn and to the world of living species and inanimate things are also on the political agenda. 

These various attempts to counter feelings of the worthlessness of voting (‘elections without democracy’) can be interpreted as experiments in breathing new life back into the spirit and substance of elections. They raise fundamental questions of global political importance: in spite of their declining importance in determining who gets what, when and how, do elections with integrity have a future? Do they still matter and, if so, is their rejuvenation, against formidable odds, now among the vital political imperatives of our age? Or are elections slowly losing their grip on democracy? Are they perhaps in terminal decline? Is the universal belief in the universality of ‘free and fair’ elections a mid-20th-century delusion, a worn-out dogma now urgently in need of replacement by fresh visions and new democratic innovations fit for our times?

20 October 2015 Alessandro Nai (University of Sydney)

Rolling in the deep: How values and personality traits affect perceptions of electoral integrity

An established literature assesses the substantial conditions for the presence of electoral integrity (e.g., Norris 2014). Within this framework, recent research focuses on how individual perceive the integrity of elections, that is, if and how citizens perceive that elections in their country are "free and fair" and globally lacking manipulations and malpractices (e.g., Aarts and Thomassen 2008; Birch 2008, 2010).

This contribution investigates the deep individual underpinnings of those perceptions. More specifically, our aim is to uncover how values (e.g., Schwartz 1992) and the Big Five personality traits (John et al. 1991, 2008) affect how citizens perceive the conduct of elections, and their integrity, in their country.

To the best of our knowledge no existing research has yet provided empirical evidence in this sense; compensating this gap is paramount for a full understanding of electoral dynamics, given that both values and personality traits have been shown to matter greatly for attitudes, opinions and perceptions.

Empirical analyses rely on the sixth wave of the World Value Survey (2014), the only individual dataset providing information simultaneously on values, personality traits and perceptions of electoral integrity. The dataset allows us, furthermore, to compare results across 13 countries, thus controlling for differences across party and electoral systems, and foremost for varying levels of measured electoral integrity (PEI index; Norris et al. 2013, 2014): rather high (Germany, Netherlands, Rwanda, South Africa, Thailand), average (Colombia, Ecuador, India, Kuwait, Pakistan), rather low (Algeria, Iraq, Jordan).

Our contribution innovates in a twofold way: first, it provides an initial account on the "deep roots" of how individuals perceive electoral integrity following a comparative approach. Second, it stresses the interplay between values and personality traits in determining attitudes and behaviours, an issue that has received scant attention so far.  

17 November 2015 Assistant Professor Zaad Mahmood (Presidency University, India; visiting fellow Electoral Integrity Project)

Determinants of electoral turnout in India: a state and constituency level analysis

Democracy in India is often considered an post colonial outlier due to the stability of democratic order and high electoral participation, and despite challenging socio-political realities -- such as large-scale illiteracy, poverty, ethnic heterogeneity and backwardness -- characteristics that lower political participation. Despite the enormous attention to Indian politics, there has been little quantitative large-scale analysis on the determinants of electoral turnout. 

This paper contributes to the literature on determinants of electoral turnout in India through an original constituency level analysis. In line with the existing study of Diwakar (2008) and Kondo (2003) I find that size of electors, extent of urbanisation and margin of political competition negatively affect turnout while literacy has a positive effect on turnout. Going beyond these oft-stated variables, I also find strong evidence that share of schedule caste population, economic inequality, and nature of party competition drive electoral turnout in India.

The outcome corroborates the sociological and micro studies of elections that claim social heterogeneity especially caste and region, share of rural population and partisan competition are the key driver of political participation in India. Interestingly the effect of social heterogeneity on electoral turnout is strongly induced by the nature of party competition. Through the incorporation of new variables the paper develops on the existing literature by providing a theoretically and methodologically coherent model of electoral turnout in India.

1st Semester 2015

Date 2015 Speaker Topic Download Paper View Video
3 March 2015 All visiting fellows and project staff:
Professor Pippa Norris
Dr. Ferran Martinez i Coma
Dr. Armen Mazmanyan
Max Grömping
Carla Luis
Constanza Sanhueza Petrarca
Marcus Spittler
Welcome round-table with brief (2-3 minute) introductions by each participant about their planned EIP research project during the 1st semester and an overview of the EIP Year in Elections, 2014 report.

Chair: Professor Pippa Norris, University of Sydney/Harvard University
10 March 2015 Dr. Zulfan Tadjoeddin (University of Western Sydney)

Privatizing elected posts in Indonesia’s local democracy

The adoption of direct local elections of local chiefs in more than 500 sub-national entities in Indonesia since 2005 has opened a truly free market competition for those elected posts. Thousands of candidates across the country compete for local office. Political contenders calculate their chances and make investment decisions. Political parties auction their nomination tickets. Political marketers and strategists provide their services. Voters are ready to sell their votes. At the end, local budgets and business licences are the main prizes to win.  It is hypothesized that the nature of the competition to win the elected posts is more on personally-centred effort of a particular aspiring candidate rather than collective endeavour at a party level. The supposedly public goods nature of the elected posts is reduced to private goods, or, at best, club goods in a very limited sense. Then, the elected posts would mainly benefit the club members. Although this pattern is a dominant one, an antithesis is also presented. The public goods, private goods or club goods nature would determine the quality of the democratic outcomes; which are related to party institutionalization, political party financing and the overall electoral design.  

Discussant: Dr. Justin Hastings (University of Sydney)
Chair: Dr. Ferran Martinez i Coma (University of Sydney)
17 March 2015 Dr. Svitlana Chernykh (Australian National University)

Beyond the opposition: Who rejects electoral results?

The emerging literature on post-electoral protests has generated important insights, but it tended to use “elections” or the aggregate “opposition parties” as the unit of analysis rather than individual political parties. Not all opposition parties follow the same post-electoral strategy yet little attention has been paid to this variation. I contend that parties’ post-electoral decisions are shaped not only by the election but also by their individual characteristics, such as their prior political histories and ideology. I test the argument with an original dataset of over 300 political parties in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union (1990-2009) using hierarchical linear modelling that captures the impact of both election and party-level characteristics on political parties’ decisions to reject electoral results. This study shows that approaching the phenomenon of post-election disputes from both the election- and the party-level offers a more accurate perspective of, and new insights into, the questions of post-electoral compliance.

Discussant: Mr. Marcus Spittler (Freie Universität Berlin / WZB)
Chair: Professor Pippa Norris, University of Sydney/Harvard University
24 March 2015 Dr. Robert Horvath (La Trobe University)

Monitoring elections for Putin: Russian ultranationalists, fake NGOs, and the legitimation of authoritarianism in the Post-Soviet space

The recent referendum in Crimea and the elections in the separatist territories of Donetsk and Lugansk were monitored by a large contingent of European ultranationalists, who lavished praise on the fairness and legitimacy of voting processes that were condemned by the European Union as illegal and illegitimate.

This paper examines the growing involvement of ultranationalists in the monitoring of elections in the former Soviet space during the decade between Ukraine's 'Orange Revolution' of 2004 and the Russo-Ukrainian crisis of 2014. It shows how the Kremlin deployed 'election-monitoring organisations' created by ultranationalists to influence both the course of  elections and perceptions of their legitimacy. By mimicking the discourse of established monitoring organisations, by highly selective reporting of abuses, and by enlisting observers from international ultra-rightist networks, these organisations were used to discredit candidates hostile to the Kremlin and to undermine the conclusions of established international monitoring structures such as the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

The paper also seeks to explain the paradox that ultranationalists - radical opponents of liberal democracy - should have assumed such an implausible role as guardians of the electoral process. I argue that this development was a product of three factors. First, an influential current of 'European New Right' ideology emphasised the value of infiltrating civil society as a path to political influence and cultural hegemony. Second, ultranationalists' anti-Westernism and their contempt for democratic institutions made them willing participants in a struggle against Western democracy promotion. And third, the Kremlin offered major incentives to non-state actors that were prepared to collaborate in its 'soft-power' campaign to deter 'electoral revolutions' in the post-Soviet space.

Discussant: Professor Graeme Gill (University of Sydney)
Chair: Dr. Ferran Martinez i Coma (University of Sydney)
31 March 2015 Professor Wolfgang Merkel (Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin - WZB)

Crisis of democracy or ‘trendless fluctuations’?

This article addresses the question of whether a 'crisis of democracy' is an invention of theoretically complex but empirically-ignorant theorists who adhere to an excessively unrealistic normative ideal of democracy. Evidence is considered at three levels:  (i) quality of democracy indices developed by experts; (ii) survey reports of the opinion of the demos; (iii) a deeper analyses of crucial spheres of democracy. The results point in different directions. According to expert indices and polls, the message is: there is no crisis of democracy. Yet evidence about participation, representation, and the effective power to govern reveal unresolved democratic challenges, such as the exclusion of the lower third of the demos from participation, an inferior representation of their interests, and a loss of national democratic sovereignty in policy-making.

Discussant: Professor John Keane (University of Sydney / Sydney Democracy Network)
Chair: Professor Pippa Norris (University of Sydney/Harvard University)
7 April 2015 Professor Pippa Norris (Harvard University and University of Sydney)

Why Elections Fail

 The spread of elections to all parts of the globe has been one of the most dramatic developments transforming our world during the twentieth century. Yet the quality of contemporary contests commonly fails. Contentious elections undermine the legitimacy of elected authorities, political participation, and stability in fragile states.

This talk, drawn from a new book forthcoming with CUP, seeks to determine the reasons why elections are undermined by numerous kinds of flaws.

Structural, international, and institutional accounts each provide alternative perspectives to explain general processes of democratization.

Discussant: Dr. Anika Gauja (University of Sydney)
Chair: Dr. Ferran Martinez i Coma (University of Sydney)
14 April 2015 Assoc. Prof. Allen Hicken (University of Michigan)

Combatting vote-selling: Evidence from a field experiment in the Philippines

 We report the results of a randomized field experiment in the Philippines on the effects of two common anti-vote-selling strategies involving eliciting promises from voters. An invitation to promise not to vote-sell is taken up by most respondents, reduces vote-selling, and has a larger effect in races with smaller vote-buying payments. The treatment reduces vote-selling in the smallest-stakes election by 10.9 percentage points. Inviting voters to promise to “vote your conscience” despite accepting money is significantly less effective. The results are consistent with a behavioral model in which voters are only partially sophisticated about their vote-selling temptation.

Discussant: Ass. Prof. Ben Goldsmith (University of Sydney)
Chair: Dr. Ferran Martinez i Coma (University of Sydney)
21 April 2015 Dr. Terence Wood (Australian National University)

The three political economies of electoral quality in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands

This paper seeks to explain why electoral malpractice takes the form it does in the Western Melanesian countries of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. It uses cross and within case variation in the two countries to argue that the form and extent of electoral malpractice is a product, foremost, of three political economies. The first of these is a national political economy which produces incentives for Members of Parliament in both countries to neglect electoral process and systems. The second political economy is an international one, in which aid actors are afforded some power to serve as a countervailing force to a domestic tendency towards decaying electoral capacity. The third political economy is localised, to do with power and how campaigns play out in individual electorates. Thanks to weak national systems there is considerable scope for actors to engage in malpractice at a local level, although local-level balance of power, and something akin to local political culture, causes the degree of localised malpractice to vary considerably.

Discussant: Dr. Peter King (University of Sydney)
Chair: Dr. Ferran Martinez i Coma (University of Sydney)
28 April 2015 Dr. Ferran Martinez i Coma (University of Sydney)

Electoral integrity, 2013-2014 - A multilevel explanatory model

In recent years a growing literature focuses on how and why some election processes are viewed as having integrity while others lack it. Some scholars examine how individual voters view the process and their role in it while others study how a state’s structural characteristics (e.g. its economic development, the education levels of its citizens, and their experience with elections) shape the voting process. The relative importance of election dynamics themselves and the process of their evaluation, however, remain unclear. What stages of the election process are most important when evaluating elections? Put differently, if we know a ‘good’ election when we see it, what is the process by which we see it and what aspects of the election do we particularly focus on? We answer this question by considering three types of factors relevant to evaluating an election: (1) the characteristics of the country, (2) the characteristics of the evaluators, and (3) the characteristics of the election itself. We posit that a better understanding of how election dynamics shape perceptions of election integrity is crucial because these dynamics vary more over time compared to individual and state-level factors. We explain why certain parts of the election cycle are crucial to determining how an election is judged—especially the conduct of the election authority, the accuracy of voter registration, and the use of political violence. Empirical results using new data on over 91 elections held in 85 countries during 2013 and 2014 are supportive of our argument.

Discussant: Dr. David Smith (University of Sydney)
Chair: Mr. Max Grömping (University of Sydney)

5 May 2015 Dr. Armen Mazmanyan (Apella Institute, Yerevan, Armenia)

Adjudication of electoral disputes by constitutional courts: are there implications for electoral integrity?

Over 35 countries all over the world empower their “Kelsenian” constitutional courts, specialized tribunals which maintain a monopoly over adjudication of constitutional matters (constitutional courts), to resolve electoral disputes. In the context of the debate on the pros and cons of electoral dispute resolution systems involving constitutional courts, this paper examines whether constitutional, vis-à-vis general courts, are better fit to maintain the higher standards of electoral integrity. This paper argues that electoral integrity often suffers from legalism wherever this is an entrenched legal tradition and that the choice of electoral dispute adjudication system in such contexts may be of importance for upholding international standards of electoral integrity. The paper defines legalism in the electoral context and argues that legal cultures affected by excessive legalism, such as those carrying the heritage of continental positivism on one hand, and Marxian legal scepticism on the other, have negative effect on electoral integrity by default. Electoral integrity is defined in terms of international commitments and norms on elections as provided in relevant treaties and other authoritative documents (Norris, 2014). Legalist traditions tend to write laws in a very technical and detailed manner, micro-managing human behavior to some substantial degree by stipulating multiple rules and procedures, and often give priory to these rules and procedures over universal values and fundamental principles, thus negatively affecting the standards of electoral integrity. Through a citation-count study of judicial decisions in four post-Soviet countries (Armenia, Moldova, Ukraine and Russia), the paper tests a proposition that constitutional courts are less vulnerable to legalism than general courts. The citation-count reveals the degree to which each type of courts are accustomed to referring to fundamental moral values such as freedom, fairness and equality, universally recognized human rights, and the relevant constitutional and international norms enshrining these. The method of citation-count analysis is adapted to testing and comparing the “judicial mindset” in both non-electoral and electoral contexts, and across the judicial jurisdictions and selected countries. The paper further examines the degree to which different courts in the target region have applied and activated such values and norms in confronting electoral malpractice in their countries.  

Discussant: Noric Dilanchian

Chair: Dr. Ferran Martinez i Coma (University of Sydney)
12 May 2015 Dr. Carolien van Ham (University of New South Wales)

From sticks to carrots: electoral manipulation in Africa, 1986-2012

  Over 90 per cent of the world’s states currently select their national leaders through multiparty elections. However, in Africa the quality of elections still varies widely, ranging from elections plagued by violence and fraud to elections that are relatively ‘free and fair’. Yet, little is known about trade-offs between different strategies of electoral manipulation and the differences between incumbent and opposition actors’ strategies. We theorize that choices for specific types of manipulation are driven by available resources and cost considerations for both incumbents and opposition actors, and are mutually responsive. We also suggest that costs of manipulative strategies are shaped by the level of democratization. We test our hypotheses on time-series, cross-sectional dataset with observations for 286 African elections from 1986 to 2012. We find that democratization makes ‘cheap’ forms of electoral manipulation available to incumbents such as intimidation and manipulating electoral administration less viable, thus leading to increases in vote buying. The future of democracy in Africa thus promises elections where the administration of elections becomes better and better but at the same time vote buying will increase. Not all things go together, at least not all the time. The future of democracy in Africa will mean more money in politics, more patronage and more clientelistic offers thrown around, at least in the short to medium term.

Discussant: Dr. Ferran Martinez i Coma (University of Sydney)
Chair: Mr. Max Grömping (University of Sydney)

2nd Semester 201


Date 2014 Speaker Topic Download Paper View Video
12 August Professor Sarah Birch
(University of Glasgow)
“Cleaning up Elections: The Evolution of Electoral Integrity in New Democracies and Electoral Authoritarian Regimes” Popular protests following elections in electoral authoritarian states have become more common in recent years, yet few studies have analyzed this phenomenon. This paper draws on the literatures on contentious politics and electoral integrity to provide a novel account of post-electoral protest. The main argument is that because in the wake of the ‘third wave’ of democratization, the politics of electoral reform revolves mainly around the implementation of democratic electoral principles rather than around the principles themselves, electoral authoritarian leaders tend to employ forms of electoral abuse that entail giving unfair advantage to pro-regime electoral competitors, rather than excluding either voters or competitors from the electoral arena altogether. This means that citizens have electoral rights formally accorded to them but episodically abused, a pattern which is conducive to generating grievance. When such regimes ramp up forms of manipulation that favor pro-regime political forces, the resultant deterioration in election quality can then serve as a focal point which serves to mobilize citizens to mount mass protests. In as much as protest can, under the right circumstances, lead to reforms which improve electoral integrity, one of the implications of this argument is that elections often have to get worse before they get better. PDF

26 August

Associate Professor Ben Goldsmith 
(University of Sydney)


Authoritarian Elections, Electoral Integrity, and Political Violence: Dangerous Choices from the Menu of Manipulation?


This paper examines the conditions under which electoral integrity allows non-democratic societies to avoid violent conflict, and the conditions under which it might contribute to such conflict. While freer and fairer elections can pose a threat to those holding power in such regimes, elections with low integrity can lead to violence by a frustrated opposition. The consequences of electoral manipulation for political violence in non-democratic settings therefore are not immediately clear. I argue that the expectations of the opposition are central to these outcomes, and are affected by the type of authoritarian regime and the degree to which its electoral processes are consolidated. My findings indicate that higher levels of electoral integrity are associated with a greater risk of deadly violence in hegemonic authoritarian regimes at all times, but that greater electoral malpractice in multiparty anocracies with unconsolidated electoral systems raises the risk of deadly violence. This suggests that it is the threat posed to the incumbent’s power by elections with some integrity that is the main source of such violence in hegemonic regimes, while in multiparty anocracies violence stems from the actions of a frustrated opposition under conditions of electoral malpractice. There is little risk of major violence associated with elections in consolidated multiparty anocracies or in fully democratic states, but what risk exists is associated with manipulated elections.



2 September

Professor Edward Aspinall (ANU)  


"Vote buying in the 2014 Indonesian elections: goals, methods and problems." 


This talk presents preliminary findings of a research project on patronage politics in the recent Indonesian legislative election. In particular, in one national electoral district in Java where research was conducted, the practice of vote buying – distribution of cash gifts and other goods to voters in the day or two leading up to the poll – was ubiquitous. Many candidates were willing to discuss the practice with our research team, and have provided access to their vote buying lists. This talk presents initial findings by way of addressing several questions that have guided previous research on vote buying in other settings. These are: 1) What structures do politicians construct in order to engage in vote buying? 2) How do they determine which voters to target? In particular, are they interested in mobilising swing voters (vote buying proper) or loyalists (turnout buying)? 3) How do they determine what, when and how much to give? 4) How are payments presented to voters? As a binding transaction? As a gift? 5) What measures do politicians use to minimize risk of wastage and ensure that voters do not renege on their side of the ‘deal’? By answering these questions we will analyse what has already become a deeply entrenched practice, yet one which is a fraught process offering its practitioners few guarantees of success.

16 September

Professor Rodney Smith (University of Sydney)

"Electronic Voting and Electoral Integrity"


Most elections around the world involve paper ballots; however, various forms of electronic voting have become more widespread since the 1990s. This growth has not been uniform. Some governments have abandoned electronic voting following pressure group activity, opposition by political parties, negative technical evaluations and successful court challenges. Other governments have resisted calls to end electronic voting, either maintaining their existing electronic voting programs or modifying them in response to criticism. The dominant reasons for introducing, expanding, modifying and abandoning electronic voting differ from country to country. This paper examines the impact of concerns about electoral integrity on these different policy decisions. It presents a preliminary analysis of countries in Europe and the Americas, where moves to introduce electronic voting have been more widespread than in other parts of the world. The most commonly shared rationales for introducing electronic voting are modernisation and efficiency, rather than concerns about electoral integrity. Nonetheless, Central and South American governments have placed greater stress on the potential of electronic voting to reduce electoral fraud, while European and North American governments have highlighted its apparent capacity to achieve other goals, such as increasing voter turnout. These contextual differences appear to have consequences for later decisions to maintain or abandon electronic voting. While moves to introduce electronic voting in European and North American contexts have been vulnerable to fears about a loss of voter privacy and manipulation of the vote count, these concerns seem less evident and less powerful in Central and South America, possibly because in the latter contexts they are weighed against previously acknowledged forms of electoral integrity failure.

13 October

Professor Norbert Kesting 
(University of Muenster)

"Secrecy of the vote, integrity, and a change in global norms? Postal voting in comparative perspective"

The secrecy of the vote is enshrined in supranational legal frameworks for free and fair elections. Democratic innovations focusing on higher rates of participation and efficiency to enhance legitimacy can have consequences for electoral integrity and the secrecy of the vote. Postal voting and internet voting face similar problems regarding the secrecy of the vote. Both are open to coercion and voter interference. Nevertheless, more countries are experimenting with both methods, and postal voting has become the predominant way to cast a vote in some countries. What countries are implementing these instruments, when, and for what purposes? The paper discusses the proliferation of postal voting and secrecy of the vote as a norm. Is this a right to protect civil liberties against state interference or coercion within a social group (family, at work)? Are these legal frameworks in real life relevant and effective to prevent electoral misbehaviour? Is coercion a ubiquitous relevant behaviour and a threat to the legitimacy of elections? The norms should be consistent with values and attitudes of the citizenry. What are the attitudes within the citizenry? Are there changing political cultures and more liberal attitudes? Empirical evidence from different countries and survey data from a pilot e-voting project and exit polls in Germany in 2003 and 2013 are presented.

21 October

Dr. Alessandro Nai 
(University of Geneva) and Dr. Ferran Martinez i Coma (University of Sydney)


“Influencing public perception through negative campaigning: a threat to electoral integrity?” 


This paper examines how the use of negative campaigning during Senate Elections in the United States (1992-2002) affects the way citizens perceive the electoral process. Building from the framework of research on Electoral Integrity, we focus on three dimensions: approval of elected officials, political interest, and external efficacy. Through ANES survey data and Lau and Pomper (2004) data on negative campaigning at the State level, we provide empirical evidence that the use of negative discourse during senatorial campaigns shapes how citizens perceive the electoral process. More specifically, we show that issue-based negative messages enhance perceptions of the electoral process, whereas person-based negative messages depress such perceptions. In light of these findings, we discuss if and how negative campaigning should be seen as a threat to electoral integrity.



Tuesday 11 November

Dr. Rich Frank 
(University of Sydney)

"Election violence in the aftermath of civil war: The case of Nepal"


After a civil war ends, the first post-conflict election can be an important test of the sustainability of peace. Many countries fail this test—either by returning to civil war or by using violent tactics to manipulate electoral outcomes. The conflict and elections literatures have explored the former (a return to civil war) but not the latter—situations where civil war does not recur but where former combatants use violence as a tool to manipulate the election process. Even less well understood is how and where electoral violence is used within a particular country. This manuscript begins to fill this gap by outlining the structural characteristics and election dynamics that shape the probability of the use of force. It presents a generalizable argument focusing on the similarities between the strategic dynamics of fighting a civil war and using election violence, and it empirically tests this argument using new data on the post-conflict election dynamics surrounding Nepal’s 2008 Constituency Assembly election. From 1996 to 2006 Nepal experienced a civil war that caused the deaths of over 15,000 people and displaced over 100,000. The 2008 Nepali election was a highstakes contest for a 601-seat assembly tasked with writing a new constitution. During the 2008 election cycle 50 people were killed, 116 were kidnapped, over 1,200 were injured, and violence occurred in 81% of Nepal’s 75 districts. Where, why, and by whom these events occurred are at the heart of this manuscript.

Previous seminars: 1st Semester 2014

Date 2014 Speaker Topic Download Paper View Video
4 March All visiting fellows and project staff:
Pippa Norris
Richard W. Frank
Ferran Martinez i Coma
Elin Bjarnegård
Tom Brunell
Hilde Coffe 
Anika Gauja
Max Grömping
Ignacio Lago 
Rodney Smith
Minh Trinh

Sandra Urquiza
Pär Zetterberg
Welcome round-table with brief (2-3 minute) introductions by each participant about their planned EIP research project during the 1st semester and an overview of the EIP Year in Elections, 2013 report.

Chair: Professor Pippa Norris, University of Sydney/Harvard University
 6 March Kimmo Grönlund (Abo Akademi University, Finland) 

Talking among ourselves: why enclave deliberation curbs group polarization


When like-minded people discuss with each other, (i.e. engage in ‘enclave deliberation’), their opinions tend to become more extreme. This is called group polarization. A population-based experiment with a pre-test post-test design was conducted to analyze whether the norms and procedures of deliberation interfere with the mechanisms of group polarization. Based on a survey, people with permissive or restrictive attitudes toward immigration were  identified and invited to the experiment.  Participants were randomly assigned to like-minded and mixed small-n groups. Each like-minded group consisted of only permissive or restrictive participants, whereas the mixed groups gathered both permissive and restrictive participants. The like-minded treatment represented enclave deliberation, and the mixed treatment a ‘standard’ deliberative mini-public design. The main finding of our experiment is that people with anti-immigrant attitudes became more tolerant even when they deliberated in like-minded groups. Moreover, similar learning curves were observed in both treatments. Our results suggest that deliberative norms curb group polarization, which calls for a modification of Sunstein’s (2002) law of group polarization.

Kimmo Grönlund is a Professor of Political Science and the Director of the Social Science Research Institute at Åbo Akademi University, Finland.

Discussant: Dr Ariadne Vromen, GIR, University of Sydney.

Chair: Professor Pippa Norris, University of Sydney/Harvard University

 11 March Sarah Shair-Rosenfield (Arizona State University)

Electoral reform, party system evolution and democracy in contemporary Indonesia

Synopsis: How do changes in electoral rules affect political representation and the trajectory of democratization? I adopt the perspective that reforms to the electoral system are key mechanisms through which improved representation and democratic consolidation can take place. I argue for consideration of a broad view of elite motivations that includes the long-term consequences of political representation, such as the trade-offs between short-term seat gains versus medium- and long-term system stability or credibility with voters. I also consider the effects of gradual reform processes in which multiple rounds of reform may seek to re-adjust or correct the outcomes of previous reform choices. Using a global sample of cases of reform between 1950 and 2010, preliminary findings suggest that while intra-party reforms are likely to positively affect democratization, the positive effects of inter-party reform adoption are highly conditioned by the fragmentation of the preexisting party system. These relationships are further emphasized by iterated processes in a subsample of the cases. Finally, I investigate some of these mechanisms by focusing on the iterated reforms of the Indonesian case from 1999 to 2013.

Sarah Shair-Rosenfield is Assistant Professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University in Tempe.

Discussant: Dr Zulfan Tadjoeddin, University of Western Sydney
 18 March Tom Brunell (University of Texas, Dallas)

Partisan gerrymandering in the United States: The impact of Cox v. Larios

Synopsis: Partisan gerrymandering is a well-established practice in the United States. This paper compares the partisan use of population deviation for lower chambers of state legislatures across the United States in the 2000 and 2010 rounds of redistricting. In June 2004, the Supreme Court's 2004 decision on Cox v. Larios struck down the provision that state legislative districts need to be of roughly equal size, or the 'one, person, one vote' principle. The study predicts that the decision will have had an attenuating effect on population deviations overall, as well as a reduction in the blatant partisan use of population deviations. Data analyses indicate strong support for this argument.  

Tom Brunell is Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas, Dallas.

Discussant: Dr Brendan O'Conner, USSC, University of Sydney

Chair: Dr Ferran Martinez i Coma, University of Sydney
 25 March Jeffrey Karp (Australian National University, Canberra)

Authoritarian Attitudes and Political Participation in Europe

Synopsis:  Comparisons of voter participation in Western and Eastern Europe indicate systematic differences between the two regions. In particular, the former Communist countries of Eastern Europe exhibit markedly lower levels of voter turnout than Western European countries. In this paper, we argue that citizens in Eastern Europe are more likely to exhibit authoritarian attitudes, which lowers citizens’ inclination to participate in the democratic process.  Using data from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) drawn from national election surveys in 22 countries in Eastern and Western Europe, we examine the relationship between authoritarian attitudes and voter participation in Europe.  In doing so, we find that citizens in Eastern Europe express authoritarian values in greater numbers.  Moreover, we demonstrate that citizens with authoritarian attitudes are less likely to vote, controlling for other factors that are traditionally used to explain differences in participation between the two regions, such as political or economic disenchantment and socialisation. 

Jeffrey Karp is Professor at Australian National University, Canberra and a well-known expert in public opinion, elections, and comparative political behavior.

Discussant: Professor Arthur Spirling, Harvard University

Chair:Professor Pippa Norris, University of Sydney/Harvard University

 1 April Ignacio Lago (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona)

Why democracy prevails: A test of competing explanations

Synopsis: After decades of research, the question of why democracy is an equilibrium remains open. The three potential mechanisms suggested by the literature have not been rigorously tested, (all groups must have a chance to attain power, income levels, and the probability of winning an armed conflict). One reason has been the lack of an appropriate measure of the dependent variable,  --how losers react after an electoral defeat -- in advanced and new democracies. Using data from the Electoral Integrity Project capturing elites’ post-election behavior, in this paper the three mechanisms are tested through quantitative analyses.  

Ignacio Lago
 is Associate Professor of Political Science at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, Spain)

Discussant: Dr Hilde Coffe, 
Victoria University of Wellington

Chair: Professor Pippa Norris, University of Sydney/Harvard University
 8 April Pippa Norris (University of Sydney and Harvard)

Why elections fail: the importance of institutions

Synopsis:Why do elections fail or succeed? Building upon accounts seeking to explain broader processes of democratization, the key factors can be divided into three categories emphasizing, respectively, the roles of fixed structural conditions, domestic institutions, and international determinants. The latter has been the focus of the most scholarly research, notably the role of international monitors and external pressures upon recalcitrant autocrats. By contrast, although there is a growing interest in the design of EMBs, far less is known about the impact of institutional drivers.

Part I in this study theorizes that power-sharing forms of electoral governance will strengthen integrity. The argument focuses upon the incentives and constraints facing political actors arising from the institutional and regulatory framework governing electoral processes and procedures. Part II establishes the evidence and Part III presents the results. The conclusions considers the lessons for theories explaining electoral integrity as well as for stakeholders and practitioners seeking to strengthen the quality of elections.

Pippa Norris is Professor of Government and International Relations and Laureate Research Fellow at the University of Sydney, the Macguire lecturer in comparative politics at Harvard University, and Director of the EIP project. 

Discussant: Professor Richard Johnston, University of British Columbia

Chair: Dr Richard W. Frank, University of Sydney
 15 April Elin Bjarnegård and Pär Zetterberg (Uppsala University)

Political parties and gendered political representation

Political parties have been described as being responsible for the male political over-representation almost everywhere in the world, and thus as the most important gatekeepers for women’s political representation. Exactly how political parties discriminate against women is, however, to a large extent, still shrouded in mystery. This paper suggests that informal practices in political parties’ candidate selection processes tend to benefit male aspirants over female ones. More specifically, the aim of this paper is to investigate if informal candidate selection procedures are beneficial for the political representation of men. We also wish to determine which, if any, specific informal selection criteria (i.e. criteria for candidate selection that are not included in party statutes) that generate a large number of male representatives (and conversely, a small number of female parliamentarians). To perform the analysis, we use OLS regression analyses on an original dataset produced by International IDEA that covers 145 parties in 35 countries in Africa, Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe. The data includes questions to party representatives about which informal criteria (if any) that play a role in the selection of candidates. This data is accompanied by data on parliamentary representation (by party and sex) that we have collected from the website of each parliament. Contrary to our expectations, we find that the informal selection critera here investigated are not beneficial for men. Instead, many informal criteria, in particular in certain contexts, are conducive to women’s access to political office. We illustrate these findings with case-study material about political party recruitment in Tanzania.

Elin Bjarnegård is Assistant Professor at the Department of Government at Uppsala University, Sweden.  Dr Pär Zetterberg is a researcher at  the Department of Government at Uppsala University in Sweden.

Discussant: Dr Anna Boucher, GIR, University of Sydney

Chair: Dr Richard W. Frank, University of Sydney
 29 April Anika Gauja (University of Sydney)

The legal regulation of political parties


Anika Gauja is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney.

Discussant: Professor Ignacio Lago

Chair: Professor Pippa Norris, University of Sydney/Harvard University
 6 May Hilde Coffe (Victoria University of Wellington)

Citizens' Mass Media Use and Accuracy of Their Perceptions of Electoral Integrity


Combining data from the sixth wave (2010-2014) of the World Values Survey (WVS) and the 2012-2013 Perceptions of Electoral Integrity (PEI) expert survey, this study tracks the accuracy of citizens’ perceptions of the quality of the electoral process across 13 new and established democracies. Building on literature on media use and political knowledge, it particularly looks at the link between the intensity of citizens’ informational use of various mass media and the accuracy of their perceptions. A multilevel analysis controlling for a variety of individual level controls and the countries’ levels of freedom of press shows that the more frequent citizens use TV to learn about what is going on in their country and the world, the less likely they are to have an accurate perception of the quality of the elections held in their country. By contrast, the intensity of listening to the radio for informative purposes has a positive effect. The intensity of the use of printed media (magazines and newspapers) and new media (internet and email) do not substantially affect citizens’ accuracy of their perceptions of electoral integrity. Yet, the effect of the use of printed media is conditional on the countries’ levels of freedom of press. It has a slightly more positive effect in countries with higher levels of press freedom. Similarly, the intensity of the use of TV tends to have a more positive effect on the accuracy of perceptions of electoral integrity in countries with higher levels of freedom of press.

Hilde Coffe is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics, at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Discussant: Max Grömping, University of Sydney

Chair: Dr Ferran Martinez i Coma, University of Sydney
 20 May Ferran Martinez i Coma (University of Sydney)

Integrity and turnout

Synopsis:Little attention has focused upon the issue of electoral integrity to explain turnout at the aggregate level. Electoral integrity and malpractices could contribute toward the explanation of voter turnout for several reasons. We discuss those explanations and with a unique dataset test how electoral integrity impacts turnout.

Dr Ferran Martinez i Coma is a Research Associate with the EIP Project, University of Sydney.

Discussant:Associate Professor Ben Goldsmith, University of Sydney

Chair: Dr Richard W. Frank, University of Sydney

Previous seminars: 1st Semester 2013

Date 2014 Speaker Topic Download Paper View Video
5 March 2013 Rich Frank
Ben Goldsmith
Max Grömping
Carolein van Ham
Larry LeDuc
Ferrán Martínez i Coma
Rodney Smith
Sandra Urquiza
Welcome round-table introducing all fellows and research projects
12 March 2013 Ian McAllister (ANU) Electoral integrity and support for democracy in post-communist Europe
Synopsis: The expansion of democracy following the collapse of communism in 1989-90 led many to believe that democratic institutions would rapidly take root. However, over the past decade, electoral malpractice has become widespread, casting doubt on democratic consolidation.

This paper examines the causes and consequences of weak electoral integrity in Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine. Using surveys collected since 2000, we show that public perceptions of electoral unfairness have their roots in views of society-wide corruption and in seeing democracy as an ideal, while viewing elections as fair correlates with watching television, showing the importance to the regimes of controlling the media. Views about electoral integrity have a significant impact on electoral participation, but the effect is substantially mediated by popular beliefs about democracy.

Overall, the results suggest that only root and branch reform in the post-communist societies will substantially improve public perceptions of electoral integrity.

19 March 2013 Ben Goldsmith (University of Sydney) Authoritarian elections, electoral integrity, and political violence. 
Synopsis: I present some preliminary statistical analyses of electoral integrity and political violence in non-democratic regimes. The logical pivot of the competing expectations is that, while unfree and manipulated elections might help avoid violence because they help incumbents maintain power, they might also lead to violence because they disenfranchise the opposition. Conversely, free and fair elections threaten incumbents, which might lead to their use of violence against the opposition, while they advantage the opposition by providing the possibility of genuine access to power, thus reducing their temptation to use violence.

The results suggest that electoral malpractice in nondemocratic regimes is associated with less violence. Theoretically, I argue this points to a general model of such elections in which the degree of threat to the incumbent’s hold on power is the main factor in sparking electoral violence in non-democratic regimes. The conditions under which such a relationship might be relevant, provided it holds up to further scrutiny, are of particular interest for my continuing research.
26 March 2013 Graeme Gill (University of Sydney)

Problems of stabilizing electoral authoritarianism in Russia 

Synopsis: The demonstrations following the December 2011 legislative election and the poorer performance of United Russia in that election both suggest a potential crisis in the Russian electoral authoritarian regime. Assuming the Russian leadership wishes to stabilize electoral authoritarian rule, how should it go about doing this? The path of increasing electoral competition and decreasing control, which is what much of the demonstration activity has been about, potentially can lead to democratization, and therefore regime change. A safer course for the regime may be reform of United Russia. However analysis of the party’s performance shows that it has not been carrying out the tasks of a dominant party. This reflects the fact that over the past decade it has been essentially an appendage to the personalist rule of Vladimir Putin. However the best chances for the long term stabilization of electoral authoritarianism is for the party to be changed such that it fulfills in a more effective fashion those tasks associated with a dominant party.

Graeme Gill is Professor of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney



9 April 2013 Michael Miller (ANU)

The origins of electoral authoritarianism and democracy 

Synopsis: Despite the global spread of autocracies with multiparty elections, we know little about what predicts electoral authoritarianism (EA). To fill this gap, I use multinomial logit to simultaneously predict transitions to EA and democracy from non-electoral autocracy between 1946 and 2007. Because autocrats retain power under EA, I argue that EA transitions follow from a strategic calculus that balances incentives to hold elections against the costs of controlling them. As a result, socioeconomic factors that make voters easier to buy off, such as low average income and high inequality, predict EA adoption. In contrast, autocrats lack significant power under democracy, so democratization is predicted by regime weakness, but not socioeconomic conditions. Lastly, I find parallel regional diffusion effects: Democratic neighbors predict democratization and EA neighbors predict EA transition.


16 April 2013

Ben Reilly (ANU)

Electoral governance in East Asia 

Synopsis: This paper argues that the democratization of East Asia is producing a distinctive form of electoral majoritarianism in the region‘s new democracies.

Benjamin Reilly is Director, Policy and Governance Program, and Professor of Political Science, at the Crawford School, ANU.



23 April 2013 Larry LeDuc (Toronto University)

Real choices: Does it matter what’s on the ballot? 

Synopsis: This paper uses data in the 6th Wave of the World Values Survey to examine how voters perceive choices on the ballot and whether this matters.

Larry LeDuc is Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto, Canada.


30 April 2013 Carolein van Ham (University of Twente)

Electoral fraud and democratization 

Synopsis: In the wake of the third and fourth wave of democratization, the number of countries holding regular elections for executive and legislative offices sharply increased: over 85% of the world’s states now select their national leaders through elections. However, while global norms for elections increasingly converged, global practice shows a widely varying “menu of manipulation”. Thus, while most states hold formally democratic elections and commit to international standards for elections, the de facto quality of elections ranges from “free and fair” elections with genuine contestation between parties/candidates to “façade” elections that are marred by manipulation and fraud.

In light of these empirical developments, research on electoral integrity is increasingly relevant. Not only as a way to clarify the fuzzy boundaries between regime types, particularly electoral autocracy and electoral democracy, but also to understand the causes of variation in electoral integrity across regimes and over time. Under what circumstances do formal democratic institutions co-exist with de facto authoritarian practices and, conversely, under what circumstances does holding formally democratic elections initiate a process of increasing electoral integrity?

Dr Carolien van Ham is a post-doctoral researcher at the Center for the Study of Democracy at the University of Twente, the Netherlands.


7 May 2013 Rich Frank and Ferran Martinez i Coma
(University of Sydney)

Monitoring electoral integrity: the expert survey and electoral law database 

Synopsis: This paper provides an overview of a new dataset—The Perceptions of Electoral Integrity (PEI) data-set—measuring expert perceptions of electoral integrity and presents the preliminary results of the pilot phase. The PEI project is a part of the larger Electoral Integrity Project focused on understanding the correlates of electoral integrity. These new PEI data represent a contribution to the methodological literature on expert surveys as well as to the literature on the causes of electoral integrity and why some elections fail to live up to standards of electoral integrity.

Dr Richard W. Frank is Research Associate and Project Manager for the Electoral Integrity Project, University of Sydney. Dr Ferran Martinez i Coma is a Research Associate with the EIP Project, University of Sydney.


14 May 2013

Rodney Smith
(University of Sydney)

Electronic voting and electoral integrity 

Synopsis Forms of electronic voting are being used or seriously considered in a range of countries throughout the world. Alongside its advantages, electronic voting brings potential challenges to electoral integrity. This paper attempts to identify some of the political factors needed to understand the effects of electronic voting on electoral integrity. The paper identifies the key points in the cycle of elections at which electronic voting can affect electoral integrity. It shows that the worldwide patterns of adoption and abandonment of electronic voting are more complex than is often thought. The trajectory of electronic voting use is not simply one of growth, or one of growing use in new democracies balanced against its abandonment by more established democracies. The paper identifies four broad effects of introducing electronic voting on electoral integrity. These can be summarised as: (i) electronic voting maintaining or improving electoral integrity in countries with already high levels of electoral integrity; (ii) electronic voting reducing electoral integrity in countries with high levels of electoral integrity; (iii) electronic voting improving electoral integrity in countries with low levels of electoral integrity; and (iv) electronic voting reducing electoral integrity in countries with already low levels of electoral integrity. These effects are illustrated using the cases of Switzerland, Ireland, Brazil and Kazakhstan. The paper concludes by identifying some key reasons that electronic voting leads to different electoral integrity outcomes.

Rodney Smith is Associate Professor and Associate Dean, Postgraduate Research, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Sydney University.