Saturday, 28 March 2015

Tunisia and Egypt: contrasting elections following the Arab Uprisings

Carla Luis

What does it take to have a good election? This not a simple question and neither are the answers. The most common words to describe good elections, in most of the observation reports, always mention the well know expression “full, free and fair”. But what does this tell us and how can we decompose these factors?

Since 2012 the Electoral Integrity Project has assessed all national elections around the world, creating the Perceptions of Electoral Integrity index according to the ratings of electoral experts. The PEI assesses eleven main aspects, according to a division of the electoral cycle: electoral laws, electoral procedures, voter registration, party and candidate registration, media coverage, campaign finance, voting process, vote count, vote results and electoral authorities. 

In the latest EIP Year in Elections annual report, two countries are highlighted as clear contrasts: Egypt and Tunisia. Egypt had Presidential elections in May 2014. Tunisia had legislative elections in October 2014 and presidential contests in December 2014. Tunisia scores high in the PEI index, with its parliamentary contest ranking as the 25th best election in the world, whereas Egypt is one of the countries that “raised more red flags”. In fact, Egypt ranked 117th on a total of 127 countries, achieving a total of 48 points on the PEI 100-point scale.   

What can we conclude from this? First of all, in some categories both countries score relatively poorly: media coverage and campaign finance. As a general pattern, this was reported as a problem worldwide that needs to be addressed.

Party and candidate registration, as well party competition enshrined in the electoral laws, are areas where the two countries differ. In Egypt, some candidates were prevented from running, only top party leaders selected candidates, and some parties were restricted from carrying rallies. Egyptian legal provisions for party competition were unfair, limiting smaller parties and favoring the incumbent. Women did not have equal opportunities to run for office, the same for minorities.

As a sharp contrast, the PEI experts perceived Tunisian women as having fewer obstacles to run for office. Additionally, the current percentage of women in the Tunisian parliament is now 31% (68 out of 217 seats), ranking 31st according to the IPU. In 2012, in Egypt, women in the lower house were only 2% (10 out of 508 seats), and 2.8% in the upper house (5 out of 180 seats). Egypt ranked 142th in the world, the 3rd lowest.

Yet there are some areas where Egypt performed relatively well, according to the experts. This includes district boundaries, the vote counting, and the voting process. Yet if the electoral framework is already undermined in crucial factors such as the equality to run for office,  the satisfactory voting process cannot compensate for the previous restrictions on electoral competition.

When we look at recent updates from Egypt, the Egyptian Constitutional Court has recently ruled the electoral law that defined electoral districts as unconstitutional. This delayed the planned 2015 Egyptian elections, with the parliament still not taking office.

The results suggest both hope and concern about the elections in these two countries from the Arab Uprising, following the overall pattern of their transitions. While there is still certainly room for improvement in the case of Tunisia, Egypt remains a serious case of concern to watch very closely.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Afghanistan, Bahrain and Syria the five worst elections during 2014

Pippa Norris
Harvard University and the University of Sydney

How do we know when elections succeed – or fail?

Many recent contests have ended with bitter disputes about electoral integrity. The issue is exemplified by partisan debates in the United States over Republican allegations of voter fraud (impersonation) and Democratic claims of voter suppression. But the Florida disease has become contagious in other Anglo-American democracies, generating controversies about the Fair Elections Act in Canada, lost ballot boxes in Australia, and insecure postal ballots in Britain.  The consequences are even more serious elsewhere in the world where contentious elections have sparked massive street protests in Cambodia, a military coup d’état in Thailand, bloody violence in 2007 in Kenya, and the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine. The recent six week postponement of Nigeria’s presidential election and delays in distributing voter ID cards has raised widespread concern.

But how do we know when complaints about electoral malpractices reflect genuine flaws and failures, and when they are false claims stoked by sore losers?

The expert survey

The Electoral Integrity Project based at Harvard and Sydney Universities has just released a new report and dataset for The Year in Elections 2014.

Expert assessments evaluate the state of the world’s elections each year. The third release of the Perceptions of Electoral Integrity (PEI) data-set covers 127 national parliamentary and presidential contests held from 1 July 2012 to 31 December 2014 in 107 countries worldwide. At present, the cumulative data covers almost two-thirds of all 173 independent nation-states holding direct popular nation-wide elections for the executive or lower house of the national parliament (excluding a dozen micro-states like Andorra and Monaco, and eight states like Saudi Arabia and UAE without direct elections). More elections will be evaluated as they are held in future years.
Evidence is gathered from a global survey of 1,429 domestic and international election experts (with a response rate of 29%). Immediately after each contest, the quality of each election is evaluated based on 49 indicators. Responses are clustered into eleven stages occurring throughout the electoral cycle and then summed to construct an overall 100-point expert Perception of Electoral Integrity (PEI) index and ranking.

The world map of electoral integrity identifies the best and worst elections around the globe during 2014.

The global map of electoral integrity, 2012-2014

Source: Electoral Integrity Project. 2015.  The expert survey of Perceptions of Electoral Integrity, Release 3 (PEI-3). A dynamic version of the map and details about the categories are available online.

Failed elections
·  During 2014, the five worst elections worldwide were in Egypt, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Bahrain and Syria (respectively), all of which failed to meet international standards.
·     In the second round of the Afghanistan presidential election on 5th April 2014, for example, a bitter dispute about alleged fraud “on an industrial scale”, resolved only by an eventual UN/US brokered power-sharing arrangement,   undermined confidence in the process and outcome.
·        In Syria, the presidential election on 3rd June 2014 was attempted in the midst of a bloody civil war and deep humanitarian crisis where polling did not take place in rebel areas and an estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes.

Contests meeting international standards

·        By contrast, during 2014, the five best elections around the globe were in Lithuania (ranked 1st), Costa Rica, Sweden, Slovenia and Uruguay (respectively).
·        For example, the Lithuanian presidential election on 11th and 25th May 2014 celebrated how far democratic practices and respect for human right have become entrenched in this country since escaping the Soviet era in 1990. The parliamentary republic has a mixed executive, with government led by Algirdas Butkevičius, the prime minister from the Social Democratic Party. For the presidential election, citizens could choose on the ballot paper from seven candidates representing a wide range of parties. The incumbent and the country’s first female President, Dalia Grybauskaitė, led in the opinion polls and in the second round run-off she was comfortably reelected with 58% of the vote on an independent ticket, defeating Zigmantas Balčytis of the Social Democratic Party. Before the contest, the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE/ODIHR) needs-assessment mission reported that the legal framework and electoral administration were both sound, the media environment was pluralistic, with free air time for candidates, and there was no need to send observers. In the complete list of countries included in the PEI_3 survey since 2012, the Lithuanian election was ranked similar to Norway and Sweden across the Baltic Sea, in stark contrast to its neighbor Belarus.

US Congressional elections
·        Compared with 127 contests covered in PEI-3 since 2012, it is striking that in the United States, the 2012 presidential election (ranked 42nd) and the 2014 Congressional elections (ranked 48th) scored lowest among all Western democracies.  
·        Experts expressed concern about US electoral laws and voter registration procedures, both areas of heated partisan debate, as well as partisan gerrymandering of district boundaries and the deregulation of campaign finance. As a result, the US mid-term contests last year were ranked as similarly in quality to elections in Colombia and Bulgaria.
·        In January 2014, the US Presidential Commission on Electoral Administration recommended a wide range of practical reforms for state and local officials, such as how to overcome long lines at the ballot box. But it failed to address the major obstacles arising from the role of partisan officials regulating registration and balloting, excessively decentralized administration, and a campaign awash with money.

What drives electoral integrity?
·        Electoral integrity is generally strengthened by three factors; democracy, development, and power‐sharing constitutions. Longer experience over successive contests usually consolidates democratic practices, deepens civic cultures, and builds the capacity of professional electoral management bodies. Economic development provides the resources and technical capacity for professional electoral administration. Power‐sharing institutions, such as the free press and independent parliaments, serve as watch-dogs curbing malpractices. Systematic cross-national research has established these general patterns but still several important exceptions can be observed. Several developing societies and emerging economies which are genuinely committed to human rights and democracy can overcome these obstacles to strengthen their record of electoral integrity. By contrast, irregularities can and do arise even in long-established democracies.

·        States in Africa and the Middle East usually face the greatest risks of failed elections, as shown by Mauritania, Iraq, Egypt and Bahrain. But there are clear exceptions within these regions, notably the successful Tunisian presidential and legislative elections, and fairly well‐rated contests in South Africa.

The stock of democracy and electoral integrity

Note: The ‘stock of democracy’ is calculated from the cumulative record of political rights and civil liberties, as estimated by Freedom House Freedom around the World 1972-201.
Source: Electoral Integrity Project. 2015.  The expert survey of Perceptions of Electoral Integrity, Release 3 (PEI-3).

Problems during the electoral cycle

Note: Each stage in the electoral cycle was evaluated using 100-point scales.
Source: Electoral Integrity Project. 2015.  The expert survey of Perceptions of Electoral Integrity, Release 3 (PEI-3).

·        The most serious risks using arise during the electoral cycle from disparities in political finance and media coverage during the campaign. These stages are assessed by experts as far more widespread problems than malpractices occurring on election‐day or its aftermath, such as ballot stuffing or fraud.

More details can be found from new books by Pippa Norris on Why Electoral Integrity Matters and Why Elections Fail, both from Cambridge University Press, New York.

Further information, the complete PEI_3 dataset, a YouTube video presentation, and a copy of the Year in Elections 2014 report by Pippa Norris, Ferran Martinez i Coma and Max Groemping can be downloaded from 

Pippa Norris is the Mcguire Lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Laureate Research Fellow and Professor of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, and Director of the Electoral Integrity Project. Contact:

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Strengthening Kenyan electoral integrity

The 2007 general elections in Kenya ended in bloodshed and instability, before a power-sharing agreement brokered by the UN eventually restored peace.  The international community has been deeply engaged in attempts to prevent any repeated violence. In the subsequent Kenyan elections of March 4th 2013, Uhuru Kenyatta won with a bare majority (50.1% of the vote). Problems occurred, however, for example the vote count was delayed for five days and the opposition claimed fraud. Nevertheless the contest avoided a repeat of the widespread intercommunal conflict and Raila Odinga, the opposition candidate, appealed through legal channels and asked Kenyans to respect the rule of law. While avoiding violence, PEI experts still rated the contest poorly, especially on issues of voter registration and the role of electoral authorities. [i]

As part of the international efforts to strengthen the quality of Kenyan elections, a workshop was held on “Electoral Integrity: Building electoral integrity through improved electoral processes, representation and the resolution of electoral disputes" on 19th and 20th of January 2015 in Strathmore University, Nairobi. It was organized by the The Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law (a joint initiative of the United Nations University, Griffith, QUT, ANU, Center for Asian Integrity in Manila and OP Jindal Global University, Delhi) leaded by Professor Charles Sampford. The Electoral Integrity Project, represented by Dr. Ferran Martinez i Coma, engaged in the workshop as part of its outreach and dissemination strategy in the international community.

The workshop examined the relevant Kenyan constitutional and legal provisions; the institutional structures; the training of personnel and the establishment of systems seeking to promote electoral integrity at all points of the electoral cycle – comparing them to such systems in other jurisdictions. In that regard, the topics covered included electoral integrity and international standards; patterns of malpractice in other jurisdictions; technological opportunities and pitfalls; procurement; political parties; the gender rule; campaign finance; voter registration; the handling of votes and their calculation; transparency,  accountability, verification, dispute settlement and the strengthening and professionalization of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

The audience engaged some of the main important actors involved in the Kenyan electoral process, such as Commissioners of the IEBC, as well as members of international organizations such as the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA). It was an honest, open and lively discussion.

The Dean Luis Franceschi, introduced the workshop, then I presented on the theory and practice of electoral integrity, following the general framework of the Electoral Integrity Project (Norris, 2014). Different topics were covered: from an overview of the project to the stages of the electoral process. After a brief overview and comparison, Charles Kanjama talked about the political parties in Kenya: how the nomination process works, questions on internal party democracy, and issues of the selectorates. One of the problems in Kenya was the lack party institutionalization (as a proxy for stability). For example,  only the National Alliance party –one in the three composing in the ruling coalition -  was formed in 2000; the rest after 2012.

The workshops also discussed gender issues. Elisha Ongoya talked about the gender representation principle in Kenya’s constitution. Jill Cottrell Ghai, one of the leading experts on Kenyan constitutional and democratization issues, presented data on the number of women in the parliament and engaged the audience in an interesting debate on whether women leadership should be the same as for men or whether women should provide a different kind of leadership.

The second day covered political finance, ethics for the IEBC, and new technologies. Regarding the former, I gave a presentation considering global issues. I based my presentation in the forthcoming work of Pippa Norris and Andrea Abel van Es. Professor Sampford made very relevant remarks on the global perspective and the general principles also presenting some specifics about Queensland. Kwame Owino, from the Institute of Economic Affairs made the argument against public funding for the Kenyan case which was not shared by a part of the audience. On ethics, the country Director of the EISA, Felix Odhiambo, presented some of the ethical standards for the IEBC; his talk was complemented with Francis Kariuki’s on institution building and development of IEBC staff.

Finally, the focus of attention was on technology.  This presentation was a very interesting blend from different perspectives: IEBC, how technology may help to reduce fraud and survey companies. Commissioner Ambassador Yusuf Nzibo, acknowledged the problems that Kenya had in the previous elections with the technology. The Commissioner mentioned the importance of testing the technology well in advance of the election date, which had not been the case in 2013. Emmanuel Kweyu from @iLab presented some initiatives that were being developed with very low costs. Kenya’s technological development is not only referential in Africa but also around the world as some platforms, such as Ushahidi. He also stressed the necessity of testing technology before election-day. The presentation on surveys, by Dr. Wolf, stressed how fraud was perceived differently in the Kenyan regions.

[i] Electoral Integrity Project. The Year in Elections, 2014. Sydney: EIP.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

2015 Electoral Integrity Graduate Student Essay Competition - Call for Papers



Co-sponsors: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA); Electoral Integrity Project (EIP; Harvard University & University of Sydney)

Description: Submissions are invited for the 2015 Electoral Integrity graduate student essay competition.

EXTENDED DEADLINE: Monday 2 March 2015

The award will be presented to the author (or authors) of an outstanding graduate student essay written in English based on the paper’s significant contribution to the theory and practice of electoral integrity.

Theme: Recent decades have seen growing attempts by the international community and domestic stakeholders to strengthen electoral integrity. Yet their quality remains problematic, with multiple flaws and failures evident throughout the electoral cycle.

The theme for this year’s essay competition is in line with a workshop on electoral integrity held prior to the 2015 APSA annual meeting in San Francisco. This workshop, sponsored by EIP and the APSA Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior organized section (EPOVB), is titled “What Works? Strengthening Electoral Integrity” and it will explore the following question:

What the most effective policies and types of strategic interventions which rectify common electoral problems and thereby improve the quality of elections?

A wide range of policies are available, including the following types of initiatives:

  1. Legal frameworks: Reforms to constitutions, legal and procedural frameworks governing elections, for example campaign finance reform or the diffusion of gender quota laws designed to produce more inclusive parliaments
  2. Governance: Building the capacity, human resources, and administrative infrastructure of electoral authorities, including training EMB staff, auditing agencies, reform of civilian security forces
  3. Technologies: Implementing electronic and internet voter registration and balloting, the use of surveillance technologies, and the deployment of social media, such as crowd-sourcing
  4. Monitoring: Deploying international electoral observers, domestic election watch NGOs and party observers, using PEI and human rights indicators, and scrutinizing results based on techniques of forensic analysis
  5. Transparency: deploying exit polls, ‘parallel vote’ tabulations, and strengthening campaign news reporting by the independent media
  6. Accountability: improving legal adjudication processes of judicial appeal and parliamentary oversight of electoral authorities
  7. Campaigning: expanding the capacity for candidates and political parties to build grassroots organizations and campaign effectively, exemplified by training in mobilizing networks, fund-raising, public communications, and policy analysis for the pool of aspirants for elected office, for nominated candidates and for elected politicians
  8. Public reform campaigns:  Mobilizing political activism by political parties and civic society organizations, opposition boycotts, and peaceful mass demonstrations.
  9. International pressures: Using aid conditionality,  international economic sanctions, and diplomatic intermediation
  10. International standards: Strengthening global conventions, treaties, and guidelines on electoral rights in international and regional inter-governmental bodies, especially concerning the lack of appropriate standards for regulating campaign finance and campaign broadcasting,
  11. Evaluation methods: how do we know what works?
Leading multilateral agencies and bilateral donors in the development community have provided technical assistance and have sought to identify ‘best practices’ from case-studies and evaluation reports. Electoral authorities considering new types of intervention have also commissioned consultants to produce applied policy research reports, such as ways to improve comprehensive and accurate voter registers, develop performance indicators, or deploy biometric technologies. A growing body of scholarly research has analyzed the effects of international election monitoring on electoral fraud in polling stations.

Nevertheless, little is known with any confidence about the pros and cons, and the systematic impact of many common types of interventions seeking to address a wide range of problems throughout the whole electoral cycle. That is why this year’s essay competition welcomes papers addressing these and other related policy relevant issues.

Method: Essays can be based on any methods, including cross-national comparisons, case-studies, field and lab experiments, public and elite surveys, formal theory, content analysis, analysis of Big Data, and participant observation studies. Applicants can be from any social science discipline.

Application instructions: Papers are welcome from students enrolled in a graduate program (at Masters Level, Doctoral Level, or equivalent) at any time from 1 January to 31 December 2014 at an accredited university, regardless of gender, age, nationality, race, ethnicity, or citizenship.
To be considered, all applications must include:
  • A paper written in English should be between 25 to 50 double-spaced pages, inclusive of reference matter;
  •  A cover page listing all the authors, contact details, title and a short 100 word abstract;
  •  A curriculum vitae; and,
  •  A photocopied document demonstrating your student affiliation during 2014.
Co-authored papers will be considered for the award, but only if all authors were graduate students during 2014. The winning paper will be selected by a three-person award committee.

Submissions must be received by 2 March 2015. The award recipient will be notified by 1 May 2015.

Award details: The author (or authors) of the winning paper will receive an award of $750 and a further award (up to US$1,000) for the costs of attending the award ceremony at an international meeting. The 2015 award will be presented at the American Political Science Association annual meeting in San Francisco, CA, 2 September 2015. The award recipient will also have the opportunity to present their paper at a relevant policy-makers conference (to be determined in consultation with International IDEA).

Application submission: Please submit applications by email to electoralintegrityessay@gmail .com or by mail to:

Electoral Integrity Project
Department of Government and International Relations
259 Merewether Building (H04)
University of Sydney, NSW 2006

Websites: /

Visiting opportunities at EIP - Call for applications closing soon!

Have you been downloading our publications and data files? Do you enjoy reading our books and blog posts? Have you attended one of our research seminars, conference workshops or panels? And would you be keen to spend a few months in Australia’s most beautiful city?

If the answer to any of the above questions is ‘yes’ and you are interested in, or already working on electoral integrity, do not miss out on the rest of this blog post! 

The Electoral Integrity Project (EIP) in a nutshell: EIP is a 5-year project that was launched in conjunction with the IPSA World Congress in 2012. The project explores three key issues: 
  1. When do elections meet international standards of electoral integrity? 
  2. What happens when elections fail to do so? 
  3. What can be done to mitigate these problems?
Read more about the EIP here

Each semester the EIP welcomes visitors to its project offices based in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney.

The deadline for visits planned during the 1st and 2nd semesters of 2015 is September 1st.

There are several visiting opportunities:
  1. Several visiting research fellowships are available for senior scholars working on issues of electoral integrity. You would be part of the research team, and we would ask you to write and present a new research paper relating to electoral integrity and designed for publication in a scholarly journal or book, as well as being published on the project website. We offer remuneration of AUD$15,000, and you can apply if you have a doctorate and hold a full-time academic teaching or research appointment in Political Science or a related field. Find out more about selection criteria and the application process here.

  2. A limited number of resident internships are also available for advanced level under-graduates and graduate students, for a period of three to twelve months. Remuneration is offered of AUD$1,000 per month as well as up to $1,700 towards the cost of a round-trip economy flight to Sydney, designed to defray the partial costs of your stay. You would be expected to work up to 20 hours a week on project-related research, including data collection, project administration, publication editing and event coordination, under the direction of the Project Manager. You would have the opportunity to participate in research seminars, reading groups and colloquium talks with the Department of Government and international Relations at the University of Sydney. You would also write a research paper on a topic relating to electoral integrity, designed to be posted as a working paper on the project website and as a blog post. Find out more about selection criteria and the application process here.
  3. A few resident unpaid visiting positions are available for advanced level doctoral students registered for a PhD at another university institution. You can apply for a period of three to twelve months, and you would have the opportunity to participate in research seminars, reading groups and colloquium talks with the Department of Government and international Relations at the University of Sydney. You would also write a research paper on a topic relating to electoral integrity, designed to be posted as a working paper on the project website and as a blog post. Find out more about selection criteria and the application process, here.

Have we convinced you? Complete the online application form.

Would you like additional information? Read more about EIP and visiting opportunities here.

Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us (note, replace ‘at’ by @).