Flawed and failed elections around the world are manipulated through vote rigging and corruption, intimidation and violence, according to an annual report released by the Electoral Integrity Project.
Political finance is often a major problem. Malpractices undermine civic engagement, political accountability and faith in democracy. These problems arise despite the fact that each year the international community invests about half a billion US dollars to improve elections.
New evidence gathered by The Electoral Integrity Project (EIP) has just been released in an annual report and dataset that assess which elections across the world meet international standards. The EIP is an independent research project based at the University of Sydney and Harvard University, directed by Professor Pippa Norris.
"More elections were held worldwide during recent decades, but too often elections fail to meet international standards," said Professor Norris.
"This study is the first to gather reliable evidence from experts to pinpoint where contests last year were problematic – such as in Ethiopia, Burundi and Haiti – and also to celebrate where they succeeded, such as in Estonia, Finland and Denmark.
"This study will provide useful evidence for a wide range of scholars and policymakers, including public officials, human rights organisations, academic researchers, and reporters covering elections and seeking to strengthen electoral integrity."
The Year In Elections report covers 180 national parliamentary and presidential contests held from mid-2012 to end-2015 in 139 countries worldwide – including 47 countries that held national elections during 2015 – and highlights issues that were salient in elections last year. The project generates a 100-point Perceptions of Electoral Integrity (PEI) index and ranking. 'Failed' elections are defined as those that fall below 40 on any of the 100-point scales.
Key findings include:
Evidence for the Year in Elections report is gathered from a global survey of more than 2000 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 11 stages occurring during the electoral cycle and summed to construct the 100-point PEI index and ranking.
Further evidence will cover national elections each year, to broaden the comparison worldwide.