Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Effective electoral reform - What works?

Do capacity building workshops for EMBs improve skills for polling workers? Do electoral observers deter fraud? Do campaign finance reforms prevent corruption? The international community is spending almost half a billion dollars a year on programs seeking to strengthen elections – but no consensus exists about the effectiveness of alternative types of interventions.

International experts gathered on 2nd September 2015 in San Francisco to identify “What works? Strengthening Electoral Integrity”. The Electoral Integrity Project workshop, held the day before the American Political Science Association’s annual meeting, brought together more than one hundred academics and practitioners in the field of electoral governance and democratization. The event was generously co-sponsored with International IDEA.

“The challenge is to identify the most effective strategies with credible evidence, scientific rigor, and practical uses.” Pippa Norris, Director EIP Project

Elections have now spread globally to all but a handful of countries worldwide. Yet widespread problems harm democratic governance, such as gerrymandering, inaccurate electoral registers, ballot-box stuffing and miscounts, voter intimidation and security defects. Malpractices can undermine faith in the legitimacy of elected authorities, erode public satisfaction with democracy, weaken and electoral turnout. Citizens, groups and opposition parties have fought to protect electoral rights. The international community and domestic stakeholders have invested considerable efforts to strengthen electoral integrity, as a critical component of democratic governance.

But what are the most effective types of strategic interventions?

To address this question, the workshop featured almost three-dozen papers. Research addressed interventions implemented throughout the electoral cycle, from legal reforms, ballot designs, biometric voter registration, and automated redistricting practices, to domestic and international observation initiatives, the transparency of EMBs, technical assistance, and regulating political finance and political advertising. Studies examined diverse cases, from Ireland and Britain to Tunisia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Croatia, Ghana, Malawi and Brazil.

Bridging the gap between academia and the field
During lunchtime, roundtable discussions brought together academics and practitioners. This innovative session created a platform for exchanging ideas and experiences. Leading practitioners included David Carroll (Carter Center), Annette Fath-Lihic (International IDEA), Denis Kadima (Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa), Vasu Mohan (IFES), Seema Shah (International IDEA), Massimo Tommasoli (International IDEA), and Chad Vickery (IFES).

The meeting concluded that collaboration between practitioners and academics needs to be strengthened. Careful assessment of any election project requires the rich practical awareness generated by field experience, and the theoretical knowledge and scientific evidence that guide academic work. Both provide an evaluation framework that is policy relevant, theoretically innovative, and empirically implementable.

Participants agreed on the fundamental necessity of replication to account for context-specific factors – be they cultural, social, political, institutional, economical – that otherwise undermine the generalizability of empirical findings. Related to this, participants also spoke of the need for a long-term approach that integrates past experiences, as well as both field and textbook knowledge. Tools for effective evaluations need to be part of the program design from the outset. Participants concluded that challenges to effective evaluation include partisan interference in assessments, lack of political will, ethical problems in field experiments, organizational resistance to (data) transparency, and conflicting stakeholder and donor priorities.

Looking ahead
Workshop papers are in the process of being reviewed by the organizers with a view to produce an edited book, planned to be published in 2016. The event was the seventh in a series of EIP workshops held since 2012 in Madrid, Harvard, Chicago, Manchester, Montreal, and Sydney, building an international network of scholars and practitioners working on electoral integrity.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Electoral Integrity across Regime Types - Highlights from the ECPR general conference in Montreal

Margarita Zavadskaya is a PhD candidate at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy (Margarita.Zavadskaya@EUI.eu)

Holly Ann Garnett is a PhD candidate at McGill University in Montreal, Canada (holly.garnett@mail.mgill.ca)

Two weeks ago, the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) general conference crossed the Atlantic and came to Montreal for four days of exciting panels, round-tables, lectures and discussions. A section of four panels on “The Hidden Challenges of Electoral Integrity” was organized by 2014 visitors to the Electoral Integrity Project (EIP) in Sydney, Margarita Zavadskaya (EUI) and Holly Ann Garnett (McGill). The section was sponsored by the EIP and featured 18 researchers from 4 continents.

The selection of panels touched upon the effects of specific types of electoral malpractice across political regimes. Presenters employed diverse methods, from in-depth case studies and QCA, to survey data analysis and cross-national quantitative techniques. Topics included the gaps between legal framework and electoral performance, the relationship between different types of party systems and electoral rules and the (perceived) quality of elections and electoral process in East Europe and post-Soviet countries, Latin America and South-East Asia. Two related research questions emerged as key to better understanding the challenges of electoral integrity: What are the greatest challenges to electoral integrity faced by various regimes types? What are the causes and consequences of electoral integrity or malpractice in various regime types?

In a panel on electoral integrity in authoritarian regimes, Lee Morgenbesser (Griffith University) provided a systematic overview of the main functions of “authoritarian elections” in South-East Asia and its policy implications. Samuele Dominioni (Science Po) raised the critical question of autocrat’s learning from one election to another through the mechanisms of diffusion. In a similar vein, Margarita Zavadskaya (EUI) used large-N analysis show how electoral malpractice may support or undermine electoral authoritarianism. These papers emphasized that electoral integrity and malpractice can have diverse and unintended consequences for authoritarian regimes.

In established democracies, on the other hand, electoral malpractice can look quite different. In these countries, our examination of fraud is often far more microscopic, as evidenced in Tomáš Lebeda’s paper (Palacký University) on the rate of invalid voting in the Czech Republic. However, there remain substantial threats to electoral integrity. For example, Michael Pal (Ottawa) focused on recent legal reforms aimed to prevent voter fraud in Canada and Australia. Pal’s paper sparked a discussion about the political will for voter suppression in some established democracies, described as a battle to manipulate the shape of the electorate.

This section highlighted that the importance placed on different components of electoral integrity may differ between regimes, countries, and even individuals. In fact, Alessandro Nai (University of Sydney) and Camille Reynolds (Université de Lausanne) addressed the personality and values as an individual-level determinant of perceptions of electoral integrity. Similarly, Marcus Spittler (WZB Berlin Social Science Center) considered the differences between voters’ and experts’ perception of electoral integrity.

These papers sparked many interesting questions about the various components that make up the concept of electoral integrity and how they can reflect different problems across regime types, regions, countries and individuals. The conference sparked many interesting discussions and facilitated future collaborations on electoral integrity across regime types.

Monday, 7 September 2015

How India undermined its elections: why was the world’s largest democracy outperformed by one of the smallest?

By Dr. Zaad Mahmood

The 2014 Indian parliamentary election was a historic achievement for the world’s largest democracy. The elections led to an alternation of government and a majority for a single party - the right wing Bhartiya Janata Party - after 3 decades of fragmented electoral outcomes. The polls constituted the biggest election recorded in history with 815 million eligible voters (more than the population of USA and EU together) across roughly one million polling stations (Election Commission of India Various Issues). The logistical requirements were colossal. Over 8 million security forces, 10 million poll workers and 15,000 litres of indelible ink had to be brought to bear (Burke 2014, Badkar 2014). It was estimated by the Centre for Media Studies that the projected cost for the entire election was to be around US$ 5 billion, just second to the US$ 7 billion American Elections of 2012 (Ghosh 2014).

But why is it, that despite the enormous logistical and financial efforts, serious concerns remain about the substantive fairness of elections in India? As the recently released Perceptions of Electoral Integrity (PEI) data suggests, Bhutan – India’s tiny neighbour to the North – outdid the world’s largest democracy in terms of overall electoral integrity (Norris et al. 2015). This is all the more surprising since India can look back on several decades of competitive elections, while Bhutan only started experimenting with multi-party democracy in 2008. The simple question is ‘What went wrong in India’s election’?

Electoral Integrity in South Asia

The Perceptions of Electoral Integrity (PEI) Index developed by the Electoral Integrity Project at Harvard University and University of Sydney provides data to answer this question. It gives an assessment of the quality of elections through expert evaluations. The latest PEI Index (Version 3.5) provides a comparative assessment of all the elections held between 2012 and 2015 for 153 elections across 125 countries (Norris et al. 2015). The index is constructed of 11 different dimensions that are most relevant and critical for elections, namely Election Laws, Constituency Boundaries, Party and Candidate Registration, Campaign Finance, Vote Count, Election Procedure, Campaign Media, Voter Registration, Voting Process, Result transmission and Election Management Bodies (Norris, Frank, and Coma 2014, Norris 2013).

As the index suggests, compared globally, the Indian election ranks above the global average of all elections. However surprisingly Bhutan, a relatively new democracy, outscores India in terms of electoral integrity to have the best elections in South Asia.

Figure 1: Electoral Integrity in South Asia (2012-2015)

As shown in Figure 1, electoral integrity varies across South Asia. Bhutan has the best perception of Electoral Integrity followed by India and Maldives. Bangladesh is the clear laggard in terms of electoral integrity along with Pakistan. The position of Nepal and Sri Lanka are somewhat intermediate in the region even though globally they are below the mean score of PEI.

The PEI Index allows looking in more detail at the electoral cycle to identify problem areas. The overall PEI Index can be divided into eleven sub-dimensions. A comparative analysis of these PEI sub-dimensions suggests that voter registration, media access and campaign finance are key areas, which require improvement despite impressive electoral institutions and procedure in India (laws, election management body, vote counting, result declaration process, election process, party registration).

Table 2 shows a direct comparison of India and Bhutan along the eleven sub-dimensions. Evident from the data is the favourable standing of India in terms of Election Management Bodies, Laws, Electoral procedures, Counting and Result declaration and Party Registration. On most counts the position of India is higher than South Asian as well as Global Mean scores. Most of these issues are under the purview of the Election Commission, which is perhaps the most efficient public body in the country. Even Voting and Voter Registration which clearly require improvement have seen innovation and conscious effort by the Commission (recent online voter list). 

PEI sub-dimension
South Asia Mean
Global Mean
Election laws
Media access
Campaign finance

Table 1: Electoral Integrity in India and Bhutan compared

However, as Table 2 clearly highlights campaign finance and campaign media as the two areas in which India falls short significantly.

Campaign finance and voter buying
The issue of campaign finance is crucial as it has the ability to undermine equitable party competition, transparency, accountability, inclusive participation, and public confidence in the integrity of the political process. Control of campaign finances by special interests and private entities may have broader ramifications such as damaging the delivery of public services and hurting prospects for economic growth (Norris, Abel van Es, and Fennis 2015).

Despite the enormous progress in ensuring free and fair elections campaign finance remains India’s Achilles heel. Vote buying vitiates political competition and introduces perverse incentives for voters as well as candidates.

Campaign finance was a part of election debate in 2014 as some of the political parties, election monitoring organisations and media repeatedly raised the issue of black or unaccounted money being used to influence voters. The Aam Aadmi Party, a civil society turned political outfit attacked other political parties during elections on the issue of funds (Bagri 2014). The media also played a proactive role in highlighting the role of black money. Consider the harsh review of Indian elections by James Tapper (Tapper 2015), ‘election officials seized 22.5 million litress of illegal alcohol, $52 million in cash and even 400,000 pounds of marijuana and heroin — all used to entice votes…..investigating a further 3,553 allegations that candidates paid newspapers and TV channels to give them positive coverage….” Media and News reports during elections such as, India election: 'Andhra Pradesh leads in vote-buying with $4.97B' (Gulf News, April 20, 2014), Black Money Power (A.T 2014), ‘Cash for votes a way of political life in South India’ (The Hindu, Mar 16, 2011) or ‘India's Election Problem: Votes for Sale (Wall Street Journal, 2014) are replete with news of vote buying.

The impact of voter buying is not limited to specific constituencies or election period but has wider ramifications. In an interesting study by Assocham, a leading busines organisation, it was found that elections had a strong multiplier effect on the Indian economy as parties ‘open their war chests for the investments’ (Choudhury 2014). The expenditure on elections is considered investment, which will yield rich dividends if elected in the form of patronage and future political investment. Devesh Kapur and Milan Vaishnav (Kapur and Vaishnav 2011) have shown that elections in India have a negative impact on the balance sheet of real estate sector. They argue builders often help politicians launder funds, which are then pumped back in at election time and the loss of liquidity causes a temporary downturn in demand for raw materials in the construction industry. Naturally such a distorted electoral incentive leads to institutional nexus between shady business and politics and unfavourable developmental outcomes. A World Bank research has found that prevalence of vote-buying, the direct exchange of “gifts” or money for political support during elections is inversely related to governments investment in pro-poor services (Khemani 2013).

Media regulation

The issue of campaign finance is also related to another weakness of Indian elections namely access to media. The 2014 election has been considered India’s first media election where media (social as well as mainstream) played a pivotal role in political communication. In terms of media access skewed financial resources has implications for level playing field and voter reachout. As Ghosal and Balachandran (Ghoshal and Balachandran 2015) show, the BJP and Congress party spent $115 million and $83 million on election campaign. The campaign expenditure for the BJP alone in 2014 was equal to the combined expenditure of the two parties in 2009 elections. The inflow of big money in campaign in an intensely competitive media market has implications for media access for the political parties. Researchers at CMS Media Lab, an independent, non-partisan media research organisation, found that Mr. Modi of BJP got 33.21 per cent, of the prime-time news telecast followed by Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal at 10.31 per cent while Rahul Gandhi of Congress came a distant third at 4.33 per cent of news time (Rukmini S. 2014).

What can be done?

Given the serious maladies associated with campaign finance in elections the regulation and control of finance is the most crucial challenge ahead for free and fair elections. The issue for India is not merely regulation of campaign finance for parties but also the use of black money in elections.

The regulation of campaign finance through appropriate legal frameworks and procedures is a challenge for any countries. As Pippa Norris et al (Norris, Es, and Fennis 2015) point out, the most popular campaign finance reforms have been to strengthen disclosure requirements and to establish and/or expand public funding and subsidies to parliamentary parties. Given the complexity and gravity of the issue the Election Commission of India, which is constitutionally mandated to oversee elections has proceeded along the same steps. The typical intervention by the Commission has been in the form of candidate spending limits, disclosure and policing of illegal funds. Recently two key regulations have been implemented, namely candidate affidavit regime requiring political candidates to disclose their criminal, educational and financial details and Election and Other Related Laws Amendment Act, which incentivised transparency for donors by making party contributions 100% tax-deductible, and mandating disclosure of large political contributions (Norris, Es, and Fennis 2015).

However the measures adopted are inadequate as revealed by the PEI index. Even the Election Commission of India recognised the increasing currency of black money for elections but efforts to curb it have been very limited (PTI 2014).

A very promising development in cleaning election funds has been the Right to Information Act passed in 2005. The act, part of access to information movement, obliges public authority to provide requested information to citizens. As Sridharan and Vaishnav point out Court judgment in 2008 based on RTI Act compelling parties to publicly release their income and expenditure records will go a long way in cleaning elections (Norris, Es, and Fennis 2015). Another important step has been the Supreme Court’s landmark judgement that gave Election Commission the power to disqualify candidates found guilty of providing inaccurate expenditure statements.

The issue of regulation of campaign finance cannot be regulated only at the level of electoral cycle. An important step in this regard would be to reform the tax regime in India. A significant linkage of relation between money and politics is the proliferation of black or unaccounted money, which is used to influence election. As such strict implementation of tax rules and constricting the scope of tax avoidance would go a long way in cleaning elections. The introduction of GST with broad tax base, if implemented properly, may alleviate the source of black money. Related to such tax reform a more direct intervention in tax rules for political parties and corporates can also be considered. As per the Companies Act in India corporations can have full deductions on political donations, not above 5 percent of average net profit subject to disclosure in accounts. Clearly some of the corporations find the quid-pro-quo of election financing and subsequent benefits more rewarding than tax benefits. As such removal of any threshold for donation and subsequent tax benefit may be considered. Likewise political parties in India, exempt from tax burden subject to certain conditions may be brought under tax bracket specifically for campaign expenditure. In Australia the campaign finance reform proposal is discussing a policy of tax deductibility of candidates and party election expenses, a thought worth considering in Indian elections.

A more direct intervention can be in the form of introduction of public funding of election. It would act to level the playing field for parties in election. However given the multiplicity of political parties and fragmented nature of Indian polity it is a difficult proposition (PTI 2014).

Finally it has to be recognised that cleaning campaign finance is part of much wider endeavor. The use of money in election is the outcome of nexus between business and politics. As the Indian economy liberalises resources hitherto under the government like mines, spectrum, and natural gas have opened up for the private sector leading to increased rent seeking and patronage politics. Sridharan and Vaishnav have argued that complete withdrawal of the state and relaince on market forces is necessary to put a stop to the system of policy and regulatory favors for payments and anonymous campaign donations (Norris, Es, and Fennis 2015). Another possible solution is the much touted lokpal or ombudsman with capacity of political oversight. Whatever the approach, the path to campaign finance reform remains complicated and difficult, but it is a path that Indian democracy must traverse to remain meaningful and accountable.


A.R. 2014. "Why India is so good at organising elections." The Economist.

A.T. 2014. "Campaign finance in India Black money power." The Economist

Badkar, Mamta. 2014. "8 Incredible Facts About India's Massive Elections." Business Insider Australia.

Bagri, Neha T. . 2014. "As Donations Pour In, Aam Aadmi Party Tries to Transform Campaign Finance." The New York Times India Ink.

Burke, Jason. 2014. "India's 550m voters usher in a new era." The Guardian, World.

Choudhury, Chandrahas 2014. "The Economics of India's Election Machine." Bloomberg View.

Election Commission of India. Various Issues. Election results and Statistics. In Election results and Statistics. New Delhi: Election Commission of India.

Ghosh, Palash. 2014. "India’s 2014 Election To Cost $5 Billion, Second Only To Price Tag For 2012 U.S. Presidential Election." International Business Times

Ghoshal, Devjyot , and Manu Balachandran. 2015. "It cost Narendra Modi $100 million to win the Indian election—here’s how he spent it." Quartz India.

Kapur, Devesh, and Milan Vaishnav. 2011. Quid Pro Quo: Builders, Politicians, and Election Finance in India. In Working Paper. Wshington D.C.: Center for Global Development

Khemani, Stuti. 2013. "Buying Votes versus Supplying Public Services." The World Bank Accessed 29 Aug. http://blogs.worldbank.org/developmenttalk/buying-votes-versus-supplying-public-services.

Mandhana, Niharika , and Vibhuti Agarwal. 2014. "India's Election Problem: Votes for Sale " The Wall Street Journal.

Norris, P. 2013. "The new research agenda studying electoral integrity." Electoral Studies 32 (4):563-575. doi: 10.1016/j.electstud.2013.07.015.

Norris, P., R. W. Frank, and F. M. I. Coma. 2014. "Measuring Electoral Integrity around the World: A New Dataset." Ps-Political Science & Politics 47 (4):789-798. doi: 10.1017/S1049096514001061.

Norris, Pippa , Andrea Abel van Es, and Lisa Fennis. 2015. Checkbook Elections: Political Finance in Comparative Perspective. In Money, Politics and Transparency, edited by Pippa Norris. Sydney: Global Integrity, Sunlight Foundation and The Electoral Integrity Project.

Norris, Pippa, Ferran Martínez i Coma, Alessandro Nai, and Max Groemping. 2015. The Expert Survey of Perceptions of Electoral Integrity. In PEI_3.5. www.electoralintegrityproject.com: http://thedata.harvard.edu/dvn/dv/PEI.

PTI. 2014. "Black money major problem in Indian elections, says former Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi." Economic Times

Rukmini S. 2014. "Modi got most prime-time coverage: study." The Hindu, Election. http://www.thehindu.com/elections/loksabha2014/modi-got-most-primetime-coverage-study/article5986740.ece.

Subramanian, Samanth. 2014. "The Stunning Result in India’s Elections." The New Yorker.

Tapper, James. 2015. India, The World’s Largest Democracy, Is Also Its Worst. Mintpressnews.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Can Turkey survive another election?

By Elizabeth L. Young

On August 24th, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced snap elections to be held on November 1st for the Grand National Assembly, Turkey’s legislative body. The elections follow the failure to form a coalition government from the four parties that won seats in the June 7th legislative elections.

While the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) finished first in the polls, receiving 40.9% of the vote, it only secured 258 seats out of 550, a decline of 69 seats from the 2011 election. This is the first time the party has lost a parliamentary majority since coming to power in 2002, and the first time that it had to negotiate a coalition among its highly polarized potential government partners. When AKP Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu failed to establish a coalition with the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the runner-up in the elections with 25% of the vote and 132 seats, Erdoğan called for early elections rather than invite another party to attempt to form a government. November elections offer an opportunity for the AKP to potentially gain enough seats to obtain an outright majority and the CHP reports that early elections, rather than a stable coalition government, were always the AKP’s goal throughout negations. While snap elections are relatively common strategies to resolve parliamentary deadlock between electoral cycles, it is rare that elections are called as a result of failed coalition talks before the parliamentary body has even met (Greece in 2012 being another example).

The elections come at a particularly critical moment in Turkish politics as Turkey weighs significant structural changes to its political system. In 2014, Turkey held its first popular presidential election after a constitutional reform shifted this authority away from the Grand National Assembly. Furthermore, the Erdoğan has proposed additional constitutional amendments to create what he dubs a “New Turkey”, which would be a presidential rather than a parliamentary system. While Erdoğan, is required to be non-partisan in his role is President, he is widely seen as actively backing the AKP, which he helped found and led up to his election as President last year, and furthering his own political ambitions. At the same time, Turkey faces continued violence in neighboring Syria and renewed violence in the southeast Kurdish regions, which some commenters suggest will be used strategically by the AKP to increase their support in November.

These concerns of growing executive power, present a democratic retrenchment from the early 2000s when Turkey actively campaigned for EU accession and was seen as a model for democratic governance in a region marked by authoritarian dictatorships. Given the current political situation, can Turkish democracy survive a “do-over” election, both with respect to its institutions and to overall voter confidence?

Current public opinion polling shows Turks roughly split in their views on the AKP government’s performance to-date. In the most recent Eurobarometer survey, conducted just prior to the legislative election, 49% of Turkish respondents answered that they “tend to trust” the government with 44% respondents tending “not to trust” it. The Grand National Assembly fares slightly better with 54% and 39% trusting and not trusting it respectively (1). The next survey wave, to be conducted around the November election, will give a better picture of how much the early elections have impacted voter confidence.

However, we do know that Turkey faces substantial existing issues with the electoral process that serve to undermine the overall integrity of the electoral system. The Electoral Integrity Project, a joint Harvard University and University of Sydney Research Project, has released new data on the Turkish parliamentary elections in the Perception of Electoral Integrity, which surveys electoral experts on key indicators in 11-stages of the electoral process. In the most recent PEI 3.5 data, Turkey ranks 84th of the 125 countries currently covered, the lowest of all OECD countries (behind Hungary at 62 and Mexico at 54). Additionally, Turkey, despite its previous regional reputation, does not stand out among other Middle East and North African countries that have held elections since the PEI started monitoring elections in mid-2012, falling behind both Kuwait and Iran.

The June legislative elections scored particularly low in three key areas of the electoral process: electoral laws, campaign finance, and campaign media, all of which support the assessment that Turkey is on the path towards increased authoritarian tendencies.

Electoral Laws (21.97 / 100): Of the eleven dimensions of electoral integrity measured by the PEI, the legislative elections ranked the lowest with respect to integrity in electoral laws, 21.97. To put this in perspective, of the 153 discrete elections evaluated in the PEI, only ten elections have scored lower in this category (2).

In particular, Turkish electoral experts strongly agreed that electoral laws are unfair to small parties (4.91 on a 1-5 scale where 5 indicates strong agreement) and agreed that electoral laws favored the governing party (4.18). This evaluation comes as little surprise, given that Turkey has the highest, legislated electoral threshold in the world: political parties must obtain at least 10% of the vote to obtain a seat in parliament. Any parties that don’t clear this threshold are excluded from the parliament and the votes are considered “wasted votes”, which range anywhere from 3.71% of the total valid ballots cast as in the most recent election to a staggering 46.33% in the 2002 election.

As a result, the Grand National Assembly has been composed of a small number of parties compared to the total number of parties competing in the election. In the June election, twenty parties contested the election, with only four parties clearing the threshold, the highest number since 1999. One of these parties is the newly founded Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a pro-Kurdish, leftist party that won 13.12% of the vote and 80 seats. While the threshold, effective since 1983 elections is ostensibly to provide government stability, it is widely viewed as a means of excluding the Kurdish minority from parliament. Given the current violence in the Kurdish regions, the HDP could potentially fall below the 10% threshold in the November elections, which could shift the current parliamentary deadlock and potentially give the AKP a clear majority of seats.

Campaign Media (27.61 / 100): The campaign media environment also scores low among the PEI experts (27.61), with concerns over the impartiality of coverage. In particular, expert strongly agree (4.54) that TV news favored the governing party and disagree (1.45) that parties had fair access to political broadcasts and advertising. These concerns were also noted by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in their election observation mission report, which highlighted media freedom as an area of “serious concern” as “media and journalists critical of the ruling party were subject to pressure and intimidation during the campaign” and state media was used in a partisan manner.

Campaign Finance (27.39 / 100): Overall PEI experts disagree that parties had equitable access to political donations (1.90), and strongly agree (4.82) that some state resources were improperly used for campaigning. Again, the OSCE reports notes that President Erdoğan attended numerous public events in an official capacity and used them as “opportunities to campaign in favour of the ruling party and to criticize opposition figures.” Additionally, state resources, such as state television, were used in violation of campaign finance rules.

As seen from the PEI data, Turkey already faces significant challenges in its perceived electoral integrity, particularly to the extent to which the ruling party is seen to be able to manipulate the elections to its favor through electoral laws, such as the threshold, pressure exerted on the media, and use of state resources for campaigns. While it is unlikely that any significant or legal changes will be made prior to the November elections, if citizens are to have any confidence in the outcome of this election and future elections, changes, either in the implementation of existing electoral laws or new ones, must be made.

(1) These levels are comparable to polling that occurred prior to the 2013 Gezi Park protests when distrust for the Parliament and government rose to 56 and 57% respectively.

(2) The countries with electoral laws perceived as lower than Turkey’s are: Turkmenistan (20.89), Bahrain (19.44), Djibouti (18.33), Tajikistan (16.25, 19.44), Malaysia (15.42), Belarus (13.69), Equatorial Guinea (13.33), Ethiopia (10.56), and Syria (9.38).