The Pseudo-Democrat's Dilemma

The Pseudo-Democrat's Dilemma: Why Election Monitoring Became an International Norm

Susan D. Hyde
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    The Pseudo-Democrat's Dilemma
    Book Description:

    Why did election monitoring become an international norm? Why do pseudo-democrats-undemocratic leaders who present themselves as democratic-invite international observers, even when they are likely to be caught manipulating elections? Is election observation an effective tool of democracy promotion, or is it simply a way to legitimize electoral autocracies? In The Pseudo-Democrat's Dilemma, Susan D. Hyde explains international election monitoring with a new theory of international norm formation. Hyde argues that election observation was initiated by states seeking international support. International benefits tied to democracy give some governments an incentive to signal their commitment to democratization without having to give up power. Invitations to nonpartisan foreigners to monitor elections, and avoiding their criticism, became a widely recognized and imitated signal of a government's purported commitment to democratic elections.

    Hyde draws on cross-national data on the global spread of election observation between 1960 and 2006, detailed descriptions of the characteristics of countries that do and do not invite observers, and evidence of three ways that election monitoring is costly to pseudo-democrats: micro-level experimental tests from elections in Armenia and Indonesia showing that observers can deter election-day fraud and otherwise improve the quality of elections; illustrative cases demonstrating that international benefits are contingent on democracy in countries like Haiti, Peru, Togo, and Zimbabwe; and qualitative evidence documenting the escalating game of strategic manipulation among pseudo-democrats, international monitors, and pro-democracy forces.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6077-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    (pp. 1-27)

    In October of 1958, the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista was one of the first leaders to seek international observation of his country’s elections. Facing declining U.S. support of his regime, pressure from the United States to hold elections, and a growing threat from Fidel Castro’s revolutionary forces, Batista scheduled elections, announced he would not run again, and attempted to invite international observers from the Organization of American States and the United Nations. Both organizations refused to send monitors, stating that they lacked the “facilities to supervise elections.”¹ The November 1958 elections were widely viewed as a charade.² Shortly after these...

    (pp. 28-55)

    Since the end of the Cold War, international election observation has attracted significant attention from policymakers and practitioners of foreign aid, democracy promotion, and postconflict political development as a useful and widely accepted tool to help facilitate democratic elections. For scholars of international relations and comparative politics, especially those interested in the consequences of international pressure on government behavior, election observation also represents an ideal case of international norm formation. This chapter presents my argument in detail, providing a theory of international norm creation in which strategic interaction between state leaders and powerful international actors generates new and consequential international...

    (pp. 56-88)

    The Costa Rican elections of February 1962 are widely cited as the first internationally observed election in a sovereign state, but they were not the first elections for which a government had sought international observers.¹ Four years earlier, the democratizing government of Costa Rica and the threatened Cuban dictatorship each attempted to invite international observers, foreshadowing the trajectory of international observation in which both true and pseudo-democrats invite foreign election monitors. These invitations were issued amid heated debates within the Americas about the relationship between democracy, anti-communism, and U.S. support for dictators in the Western Hemisphere. Costa Rica invited observers...

    (pp. 89-125)

    As of January 2005, Ethiopia received nearly a third of its total budget from the United States and European Union member states. It was one of the leading aid recipients in Africa, and prior to parliamentary elections in 2005, the country was considered a darling of the donor community on the African continent, setting an example of relative stability, economic growth, and political liberalization. Although he had refused to invite international observers in 2000, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government invited and accredited more than three hundred monitors for the May 2005 general elections, including delegations from the African Union,...

    (pp. 126-157)

    Are international election monitors more costly to pseudo-democrats than to true democrats? In this chapter, I continue investigating the consequences of internationally monitored elections as they relate to norm formation and show that the presence of international observers correlates with several types of costs to incumbent leaders. I also use experimental evidence involving the randomization of short-term election observers to demonstrate that international observers can have a direct deterrent effect on election day fraud. By causing a reduction in vote share through fraud deterrence, at the very minimum election monitors make it more difficult for pseudo-democrats to steal elections, a...

    (pp. 158-184)

    The norm of election monitoring is that governments committed to democratic elections invite international monitors. The corresponding belief is that noninviting states must be electoral autocracies, unless the country has otherwise established a reputation as a consolidated democracy. Because of the belief that all true democrats invite observers, and because there are consequences to being caught manipulating the election by international observers, my theory implies that pseudo-democrats should devote effort to concealing election manipulation such that they are less likely to be caught. In addition, pro-democracy actors should push for increases in the quality of election observation, and international observers...

  11. CONCLUSION: Constrained Leaders and Changing International Expectations
    (pp. 185-210)

    Prior to the 2006 Belarusian election, President Aleksander Lukashenko invited observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the National Democratic Institute, and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Reportedly a popular incumbent, Lukashenko nevertheless engaged in many forms of electoral manipulation, including vote buying, intimidation, mass arrests, and monopolization of the media. The OSCE criticized the electoral process, saying that that it was “severely flawed due to arbitrary use of state power and restrictions on basic rights.”¹ The United States responded to the fraudulent elections by declaring the results invalid, refusing to accept Lukashenko as the winner,...

  12. APPENDIX A Formalization of Signaling Game
    (pp. 211-215)
  13. APPENDIX B Codebook
    (pp. 216-224)
    (pp. 225-238)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 239-246)