Friday, 7 August 2015

The Year in Elections, mid-2015 update (PEI 3.5)

The latest version of the Perceptions of Electoral Integrity (PEI) Index has been released. This last version (3.5) includes the responses for 1696 experts for 153 elections in 125 countries. The data can be downloaded free of charge here. It is available at the expert, election and country level, and adds to the previous releases (3.0, 2.5, 2 and 1).

In this post, we present some interesting results for the 27 elections in 18 countries considered during the first half of this year. Before, though, we would like to thank all the experts that have devoted their time and knowledge answering our questionnaire. We define an expert as a political scientist (or social scientist in a related discipline) who has published on (or who has other demonstrated knowledge of) the electoral process in a particular country. Specifically, demonstrated knowledge is defined by the following criteria: (1) membership of a relevant research group, professional network, or organized section of such a group; (2) existing publications on electoral or other country-specific topics in books, academic journals, or conference papers; and (3) employment at a university or college as a teacher. At least forty experts per country were contacted for each election, including both domestic and international experts. The domestic/international distinction was made based on institutional affiliation, citizenship, and country of residence.

The elections included in this release took place between 1 January and 30 June 2015. They are the legislative elections of Uzbekistan, Greece, Comoros, Lesotho, Estonia, Tajikistan, El Salvador, Micronesia, Israel, Nigeria, Finland, Benin, United Kingdom, Guyana, Ethiopia, Suriname, Mexico, Turkey and Denmark and the presidential contests of Sri Lanka, Croatia, Zambia, Uzbekistan, Sudan, Togo, Kazakhstan and Poland. You can access the new executive summary EIP report here.

How was the integrity of those contests assessed by the PEI experts? We ask experts to evaluate elections using 49 indicators, grouped into eleven categories reflecting the whole electoral cycle. The dataset also includes a summary 100-point PEI Index based on summing all 49 indicators. These are the results for the overall PEI Index:

Finnish, Danish and Estonian elections perform very well in the ranking, well above the average (55.8). Perhaps, one of the most surprising results is the performance of the United Kingdom very similar to Benin’s. Another African country, Lesotho, performs above average.

There are two regions that seem to concentrate the worst performers of the elections: sub-Saharan Africa and former soviet republics. Indeed, Ethiopia, Togo and Sudan, jointly with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan perform very low in the index. Ethiopia’s performance, unfortunately, becomes the lowest of the series (disbanking 2013’s Equatorial Guinea). Obviously, democracy and development levels may have an impact on the performance but as the cases of Lesotho and Benin show, nothing is written in stone and the integrity of the elections can be improved.

Two big countries - Mexico and Turkey - perform below the average and worse than in previous years. Mexico loses about 10 points compared to the presidential elections of 2012, while Turkey looses about 4. It is also worth to mention that experts differentiate among the quality of elections within the same countries in the same year. A look to the evaluations of the Uzbeks Presidential and Legislative elections are a clear indication of this. While in neither any of the elections reaches the average, the Presidential (49) elections were substantively better evaluated than the legislative (39).

Obviously, this is just a first cut of the results, descriptive statistics without looking for any causal relation. In forthcoming posts we will show other results of the data. For the moment, you can download the data here and use it for your own research.

By the end of 2015, we will have gathered more than 175 elections and about 150. Keep posted for the new posts and updates. If you have any query, doubt or spot any inconsistency in the data, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Dr. Ferran Martinez i Coma
Sydney, 8 August 2015

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