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The Pseudo-Democrat's Dilemma: Why…

The Pseudo-Democrat's Dilemma: Why Election Monitoring Became an… (edition 2011)

by Susan D. Hyde

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Title:The Pseudo-Democrat's Dilemma: Why Election Monitoring Became an International Norm
Authors:Susan D. Hyde
Info:Cornell University Press (2011), Hardcover, 248 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Pseudo-Democrat's Dilemma: Why Election Observation Became an International Norm by Susan D. Hyde

Recently added bythcson, OliviaRutazibwa, ViFaPol



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I felt a bit ambivalent about this book. The unexpected spread of election monitoring in the past decades is certainly interesting, but the author's so-called "theory" for explaining this phenomenon isn't. Her thesis is that (a) there are benefits that rich countries bestow only on countries whose system of government approximates democracy, (b) observers are needed to assess degrees of democracy, which (c) gives many non-democratic regimes the incentive to invite observers and attempt to fool them.

There's no doubt a great deal of truth in this explanation, but it's so self-evident that the author's extensive analyses are overdimensioned and quite boring. The problem is that she focuses too much on the logic of steps (b) and (c) and not nearly enough on part (a). It's obvious that very poor countries can receive a great deal more aid and trade from the US and the EU by posing as democracies, but it seems to me that the election-monitoring dilemma may have a different explanation in richer countries. Some governments may invite election-monitors to signal their legitimacy primarily to their own citizens.

This book would have benefited from a more detailed view of the benefits pseudo-democrats can gain from faking democratic credentials. If there's a benefit there's obviously an incentive to fake, that point hardly needs to be argued. It would have been interesting to read about the precise nature and source of benefits that each pseudo-democratic government hopes to gain through election-monitoring. I suspect that the multiplicity of motivations is greater than this book suggests.
  thcson | Jan 11, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0801449669, Hardcover)

Why did election monitoring become an international norm? Why do pseudo-democrats-undemocratic leaders who present themselves as democratic-invite international observers, even when they are likely to be caught manipulating elections? Is election observation an effective tool of democracy promotion, or is it simply a way to legitimize electoral autocracies? In The Pseudo-Democrat's Dilemma, Susan D. Hyde explains international election monitoring with a new theory of international norm formation. Hyde argues that election observation was initiated by states seeking international support. International benefits tied to democracy give some governments an incentive to signal their commitment to democratization without having to give up power. Invitations to nonpartisan foreigners to monitor elections, and avoiding their criticism, became a widely recognized and imitated signal of a government's purported commitment to democratic elections.

Hyde draws on cross-national data on the global spread of election observation between 1960 and 2006, detailed descriptions of the characteristics of countries that do and do not invite observers, and evidence of three ways that election monitoring is costly to pseudo-democrats: micro-level experimental tests from elections in Armenia and Indonesia showing that observers can deter election-day fraud and otherwise improve the quality of elections; illustrative cases demonstrating that international benefits are contingent on democracy in countries like Haiti, Peru, Togo, and Zimbabwe; and qualitative evidence documenting the escalating game of strategic manipulation among pseudo-democrats, international monitors, and pro-democracy forces.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:34 -0400)

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