Disputed Elections and Legitimacy

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Disputed Elections and
Legitimacy
What comes after matters!
Dr. Jeff Key
AP Comparative Politics Workshop
Boston, MA
April 10, 2010
We invest elections with great significance …
“By a democratic regime, we mean a set of
institutions that allow the citizens to choose
the makers of public policy in free, competitive
elections…”
“Countries with free and fair elections for the
real policymakers and eligibility of all adults
meet the minimum requirements for
procedural democracy.”
Almond and Powell
…but give them little critical reflection.
The Power of Elections

What comes AFTER elections is important!

Does acceptance of election outcomes
reflect legitimacy?
◦ Even in authoritarian systems, elections
facilitate participation.

What if election outcomes are challenged?
◦ How the government responds to post-election
challenges impacts its legitimacy.
Elections and Legitimacy

Leaders of losing parties often challenge
election results and promote protests that
the government must address.
Challenged
results

Postelection
protests
Government
response
Failure to stop such protests undermines
the government’s ability to rule and its
legitimacy.
Post-election Protests & Government Response

HOW the government addresses postelection protests is important.
◦ Can it be done without coercion?
◦ Is coercion needed?
No coercion
Reinforces
legitimacy?
Coercion
Undercuts
legitimacy?
Post-election
protests
Post-election Protests and Legitimacy
Institutions and processes to resolve
election disputes help to absorb conflict.
 Forms…election commissions or courts

Results
challenged
Election
Results
accepted
Adjudicated by
election courts
or commission
Reinforces
legitimacy?
No institutions
for dispute
resolution
Undercuts
legitimacy?
Reinforces
legitimacy?
Post-election Remedies Matter!

Percentage of eligible votes cast
◦ Would you believe 100% participation?

Size of “gap” between winner and losers
◦ What’s sparks protests, close races or landslides?

Reports of post-election protests and
government responses
◦ How widespread/intense are protests?
◦ Is force is used to suppress them?

Length of time between election date and
date of final declaration of winner
◦ Is a longer period “better”?
What to look for after elections…
Mexico
• 2006
• Calderon win
challenged
Nigeria
• 2007
• Yar’Adua win
challenged
Iran
Three Cases
• 2009
• Ahmadinejad
win challenged





Turnout: 59%
Winner: Filipe Calderon (35.89%)
Closest rival: Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador
(35.31%)
Election date: July 2
Confirmed: September 5 by the Electoral
Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary (TEPJF)
Mexico 2006





Turnout: est. 57.5%
Winner: Amadu Yar’Adua (70%)
Closest rival: Muhammadu Buhari (18.72%)
Election date: April 21
Confirmed: April 23 by Independent National
Election Commission (INEC)
Nigeria 2007





Turnout: 85%
Winner: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (62.63%)
Closest rival: Mir-Hossein Mousavi (33.75%)
Election date: June 12
Confirmed: June 29 by the Supreme Leader
Ali Khamenei (Guardian Council asked him to
extend the required election complaint period
an additional five days.)
Iran 2009






www.electionguide.org
www.ifes.org
www.iri.org/explore-ourresources/election-watch
www.ndi.org/content/elections
www.cartercenter.org/peace/democracy/o
bserved.html#table
muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_democr
acy/election_watch (1990-2000 only)
Useful Election Websites
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