Elections measure citizens’ perceptions of their leaders, but elections that don’t work not only obscure citizens’ views, they reveal fundamental cracks in a country’s accountability.
“Electoral integrity, which was a phrase created by Kofi Annan’s commission, is really a kind of shorthand for all the reasons why an election might go wrong,” Pippa Norris, a leading political scientist and director of the Electoral Integrity Project told Devex.
“When the elections are fraudulent … or there’s voter suppression, or parties can’t stand, then that whole chain of electoral accountability breaks down,” she said.
One weak link in the elections process can compromise the whole system, Norris said. While organizations and groups working on the ground on elections monitoring and accountability often approach weak elections with good intentions and bright ideas, these groups tend to miss the big picture.
“If you say to them, how do you strategically work out what’s most effective, most organizations haven’t really got that much of an idea,” Norris said.
Norris, the McGuire Lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, pointed out that while implementers are doing the right thing by “responding to opportunities,” what the field really needs is to strengthen the evidence base for improved accountability.
Molly is a global development reporter for Devex. Based in London, she covers U.K. foreign aid and trends in international development. She draws on her experience covering aid legislation and the USAID implementer community in Washington, D.C., as well as her time as a Fulbright Fellow and development practitioner in the Middle East to develop stories with insider analysis.
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