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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: August 2015

5 - Institutional Checks



By contrast to both theories already considered, research on comparative political institutions focuses upon the constitutional design, the powers and capacity of the core agencies for electoral administration, and the incentives and constraints that arise from these arrangements. To lay the foundations for these arguments, the chapter first identifies alternative arrangements of power-sharing and majoritarian forms of electoral governance conceptualized as ideal types, with the United States and France selected as case studies, to highlight the contrasts. summarizes rival claims about the pros and cons of each type of electoral governance and, in particular, arguments suggesting that power sharing strengthens democratization and, by implication, processes of electoral integrity. Institutional checks and balances preventing the abuse of power, building stakeholder trust, and reducing the incentives for malpractice, are believed to reinforce electoral integrity. Nevertheless, these potential benefits may come at the expense of some loss of accountability, coordinated policymaking, and administrative efficiency. To test empirical support for the arguments, operationalizes the core concepts and considers the evidence for the links between four political institutions (the type of electoral system, the independence of the judiciary, strong parliaments, and freedom of the press) and patterns of electoral integrity, controlling for the key structural and international factors found to be important in previous chapters. The analysis draws upon the cross-national indicators (PEI) to measure electoral integrity and its components in the eleven step electoral cycle. The conclusion summarizes the main findings, and considers the overall implications.

Typology of Electoral Governance

The concept of “electoral governance” is understood as: “…the interaction of constitutional, legal, and institutional rules and organizational practices that determine the basic rules for election procedures and electoral competition; organize campaigns, voter registration, and election-day tallies; and resolve disputes and certify results.” The notion therefore refers to the organizational bodies exercising decision-making and administrative authority over electoral laws and procedures. The idea encompasses two distinct levels: the higher constitutional arrangements in any regime and the more specific functions of administrative agencies responsible for implementing electoral regulations and detailed procedures governing different stages of the electoral cycle (discussed fully in the next chapter).