UN Electoral Assistance: Does it Matter for Election Management?
Between 2007 and 2014 the United Nations (UN) provided technical, financial and logistical assistance to half of all elections held outside of established democracies. Does UN Electoral Assistance (UNEA) substantially contribute to the quality of elections? My analysis of original data on UNEA in combination with new indicators from the Varieties of Democracy- Project suggests that elections with UNEA are on average better managed than elections without it. Case studies illustrate that UNEA can effectively supplement and develop election management capacities – at least if the incumbent regime complies with the provided advice. Nevertheless, serious deficiencies in terms of electoral freedom and fairness remain in many UN-supported elections due to challenging political contexts.
For helpful comments, I thank Abel Escribà Folch, Kristen Kao, Staffan Lindberg, Ellen Lust, Kyle Marquardt, Silvia von Steinsdorff, Bernhard Weßels and participants of the General Research Seminar of the University of Gothenburg’s Political Science Department (11/2015) and of the IBEI Research Seminar in Barcelona (3/2016), where earlier versions of this paper were discussed. Doctoral funding from the Humboldt University/BGSS is gratefully acknowledged. Post-doctoral work at the V-Dem Institute (University of Gothenburg) on this research project was supported by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, Grant M13-0559:1 (PI: Staffan I. Lindberg); and by Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, Grant 2013.0166 (to Wallenberg Academy Fellow Staffan I. Lindberg).