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Chapter 6 focuses on how the effects of foreign interventions depend on the identity of the intervener. It shows that in Tunisia and the United States, the presence of capable and unbiased monitors (not any monitors) increased election credibility. In Georgia, an unusually certain electoral environment, the same was true when the analysis focused only on individuals with significant uncertainty in their beliefs about election credibility. Intriguingly, in Tunisia, the monitors perceived as capable and unbiased were those from the Arab League. Returning to meddlers, Bush and Prather find that most respondents did not believe meddling was likely to affect the election results. If they did believe meddlers were capable, however, then they observe the predicted negative relationship with election credibility. Moreover, in a hypothetical scenario in which a foreign actor successfully meddled in a future election in Georgia, they find the expected decrease in election credibility. This chapter shows how dependent the effects of foreign actors are on beliefs about the actor’s capabilities and biases.
Chapter 2 develops the theoretical framework that Bush and Prather test later in the book. It posits that people form their beliefs about election. First, people desire to hold accurate beliefs about an election’s credibility. Second, they desire to hold beliefs about election credibility that are consistent with their partisan attachments. Given the accuracy motive, for foreign actors’ interventions to provide new information to the public about the electoral playing field, citizens must believe that foreign actors are capable and willing to influence it. And both accuracy and directional motivations point to vote choice as an essential moderating factor in terms of the effects of foreign actors on local trust. The predictions Bush and Prather develop contrast sharply with an alternative perspective on foreign interventions around elections that expects citizens to respond with hostility to any outside intervention due to their tendency towards nationalist backlash.
In Chapter 4, Bush and Prather begin testing the theory with respect to election monitoring. After discussing the ecology of international election monitors and showing general public acceptance of them, they find limited support for the hypotheses about average effects of monitors. In none of the book’s cases did information simply about the presence of international monitors increase trust in elections. Bush and Prather find more support for the conventional wisdom about the effects of monitors’ reports, as positive reports increased trust relative to negative reports in Tunisia and the United States. The substantive effect was fairly modest, however, and they do not find evidence that monitors’ reports had the same effect in Georgia.
Foreign influences on elections are widespread. Although foreign interventions around elections differ markedly-in terms of when and why they occur, and whether they are even legal-they all have enormous potential to influence citizens in the countries where elections are held. Bush and Prather explain how and why outside interventions influence local trust in elections, a critical factor for democracy and stability. Whether foreign actors enhance or diminish electoral trust depends on who is intervening, what political party citizens support, and where the election takes place. The book draws on diverse evidence, including new surveys conducted around elections with varying levels of democracy in Georgia, Tunisia, and the United States. Its insights about public opinion shed light on why leaders sometimes invite foreign influences on elections and why the candidates that win elections do not do more to respond to credible evidence of foreign meddling.
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