Inken von Borzyskowski | 2016

Resisting democracy assistance: Who seeks and receives technical election assistance?

in: Review of International Organizations, 11:2, 247-282

Why are some developing countries less open to technical election assistance than to election observation? My argument about who seeks and receives technical election assistance is two-fold, taking into account the incentives of recipients and providers. On the recipient side, governments are less likely to request technical assistance when the political costs are high (autocracy) or the benefits low (strong electoral institutions). On the provider side, international organizations are less likely to provide such technical assistance when the government appears to lack political will for reform and full project implementation is unlikely.

Statistical analyses of global data on technical election assistance by the United Nations covering 130 countries from 1990 to 2003 support this argument about political cost-benefit calculations in considering technical assistance. Case examples from Guyana, Indonesia, Haiti, and Venezuela illustrate some of these dynamics. My findings suggest that seemingly complementary international interventions (observation and technical support) can create different incentives for domestic and international actors. This helps explain why some countries tend to agree more often to election observation than to technical election assistance.

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