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Information and Self-Enforcing Democracy: The Role of International Election Observation

Information and Self-Enforcing Democracy: The Role of International Election Observation

January 27, 2011 - 12:00pm to December 4, 2014 - 1:30pm
Event Speaker: 
Susan Hyde, Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, Yale University
Event Sponsor: 
The Munro Lectureship Fund and The Lane Center
Abstract: 
What motivates leaders to hold democratic elections? Under what conditions does democracy become self-enforcing? Based on a few simple assumptions, we show that when democracy is not yet institutionalized, information about the quality of elections is a necessary condition for leaders to hold clean elections. In the absence of such information, manipulation is highly likely, because the incumbent government is likely to be punished for manipulation anyway, unless they lose power. When credible signals about election quality exist, domestic and international consequences for election fraud are more accurate, thereby making the strategy of clean elections more likely. We evaluate the empirical implications of our model using data on elections throughout the developing world, election observation, changes in foreign aid, and post-election protest. We find that election observation is more likely in low-information environments, and works as an international substitute for credible domestic sources of information on election quality. Given this additional source of information, we show that observed elections are followed by increased variance in foreign aid allocation, and that post-election protests are more likely and last longer following negative reports from international observers.
Biography: 

Susan Hyde is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at Yale University, where she is affiliated with the MacMillian Center and the Institute for Social and Policy Studies. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego in 2006, and has held fellowships at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. and Princeton University's Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance. Her research interests include international influences on domestic politics, elections in developing countries, international norm creation, election manipulation, and the use of natural and field experimental research methods. Her current research explores the effects of international democracy promotion efforts, and her research has been published in World Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Perspectives on Politics, the Journal of Politics. She has recently completed a book entitled The Pseudo-Democrat's Dilemma: Why Election Monitoring Became an International Norm.  She has served as an international observer with several organizations for elections in Albania, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Pakistan and Venezuela, and has worked for the Democracy Program at The Carter Center. She teaches courses on international organizations, democracy promotion, the global spread of elections, and the role of non-state actors in world politics.