In many countries, polling day ends with disputes about ballot‐box fraud, corruption, and flawed registers. Which claims are accurate? And which are false complaints from sore losers?
New evidence gathered by the Electoral Integrity Project has just been released in an annual report which compares the risks of flawed and failed elections, and how far countries around the world meet international standards. The EIP is an independent research project based at the University of Sydney and Harvard University, under the direction of Professor Pippa Norris.
The report evaluates the integrity of all 127 national parliamentary and presidential contests held between 1 July 2012 to 31 December 2014 in 107 countries worldwide, ranging from Sweden and the United States to Mozambique and Syria.
The EIP report identifies the best and worst elections last year.
- During 2014, the 5 worst elections worldwide were in Egypt, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Bahrain and Syria (respectively), all of which failed to meet international standards.
- During 2014, the 5 best elections worldwide were in Lithuania, Costa Rica, Sweden, Slovenia and Uruguay (respectively).
- Elections in the United States scored lowest among all Western nations. The 2014 Congressional election was ranked similarly to Colombia and Bulgaria. Experts expressed concern about American electoral laws and voter registration procedures, both areas of heated partisan debate.
- Electoral integrity is generally strengthened by democracy, development, and power‐sharing constitutions. Longer experience over successive contests consolidates democratic practices, deepens civic cultures, and builds the capacity of professional electoral management bodies. Development provides resources for electoral administration. Power‐sharing institutions, like the free press and independent parliaments, curb malpractices.
- States in Africa and the Middle East face the greatest risks of failed elections, but there are clear exceptions within these regions, notably the successful Tunisian presidential and legislative elections, and fairly well‐rated contests in Mauritius and South Africa.
- The most serious risks arise during the campaign from disparities in political finance and media coverage, assessed as more common problems than malpractices occurring on election‐day or its aftermath.
The evidence is derived from a global survey of 1,429 election experts. Immediately after each contest, the survey asks domestic and international experts to monitor the quality based on 49 indicators. These responses are then clustered into eleven stages occurring during the electoral cycle and summed to construct an overall 100‐point expert Perception of Electoral Integrity (PEI) index and ranking.
Subsequent annual reports will cover national elections every year, to broaden the comparison worldwide.
“More elections are held worldwide during recent decades but there is widespread concern about their integrity,” Pippa Norris commented, “Too often elections are deeply flawed, or even failing to meet international standards. This study is the first to gather reliable evidence from experts to pinpoint where contests are problematic‐ such as in Bahrain, Syria and Afghanistan – and also to celebrate where they succeed, such as in Lithuania, Costa Rica and Sweden.”
Further information is available at www.electoralintegrityproject.com
Contacts: Professor Pippa Norris, EIP Director, firstname.lastname@example.org; Mobile +61 2 0467 16 3051 (Australia); Dr Ferran Martínez i Coma, Research Associate, email@example.com Tel: +61 2 9351 2147; Max Groemping, Research Assistant, firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +61 2 93515085.