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EIP report ranks world's worst and best elections of 2014


17 February 2015

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 (EIP) 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.

This annual 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 five worst elections worldwide were in Egypt, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Bahrain and Syria (respectively), all of which failed to meet international standards.
  • During 2014, the five 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.
  • In Southeast Asia, the world's largest Muslim majority country Indonesia held two elections in 2014. The legislative polls were ranked 82nd mainly due to the undue influence of money politics, while the presidential election was evaluated better (at rank 51), despite attempted manipulations of exit polls by candidate Prabowo. The election in Thailand - the last before the May 2014 military coup - was evaluated in the mid-range (ranked 88th). Despite the opposition's claims of corruption and fraud, it was the opposition's own intimidation campaign and the poor performance of the electoral authorities that dragged down the experts' perceptions.
  • 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.

Evidence is gathered from a global survey of 1,429 election experts. Immediately after each contest, the survey asks domestic and international experts to monitor the quality of an election based on 49 indicators. These responses are 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," Professor 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 and electoralintegrity@gmail.com and further graphs available on request.

Download the full report.


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Media enquiries: Professor Pippa Norris, EIP Director, pippa_norris@harvard.edu; Tel (Australia) +61 2-467-163051; Dr Ferran Martínez i Coma, Research Associate, ferran.martinezcoma@sydney.edu.au +61 2 9351 2147; Max Grömping, Research Assistant, Max.Groemping@sydney.edu.au 61+ 2-935-15085.