University of Sussex
Lara Otaola, Miguel Angel.pdf (2.44 MB)

When, where and under what conditions are election results accepted? A comparative study of electoral integrity

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posted on 2023-06-09, 09:40 authored by Miguel Angel Lara Otaola
When votes are cast in an election and a winner is declared, people can accept the result, they can challenge it or they can turn against democracy. This thesis seeks to understand why in some cases elections are accepted while in others they are challenged and their outcomes rejected. Conventional wisdom holds that when elections are held according to international standards, acceptance will follow. I challenge this notion. As experience shows, sometimes even elections classified as free and fair evoke protests, while less technically perfect elections are sometimes widely accepted. So, when, where and under what conditions are election results accepted? And what can we do to increase their credibility? There are many aspects than can influence this but I focus on three main areas that deserve especial attention. A first research phase relies on Qualitative Comparative Analysis. It shows that holding free and fair elections is necessary but not sufficient for the acceptance of election results. Two other factors are needed: a) political parties need to support electoral institutions and b) election results need to be transparent. A second research phase uses multilevel regression to explore the first of these factors in greater detail. Findings show that including political parties in the appointment of the members of the electoral management body has a positive impact on election credibility. A third research phase consisting of a small N structured comparison focuses on election results. It shows that having visible and inferable results contributes to preventing and mitigating post-election protests. In short, an election not only has to be “free and fair” but also needs the legitimacy and credibility obtained when political parties support the main election institution and when results are clear, widely available and completely beyond doubt.


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  • doctoral

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  • phd


  • eng


University of Sussex

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