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Hyde on why political leaders invite election monitors and cheat in front of them

Until 1962, there were no recorded cases of international election observation in sovereign states. Today, it is rare for a developing country to have a legitimate election without the presence of international observers. Upwards of 80 percent of elections held in nonconsolidated democracies are now monitored, and many leaders orchestrate obvious electoral fraud in the presence of international observers who condemn them. Alberto Fujimori of Peru,
Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, Manuel Noriega of Panama, and Eduard Shevardnadze of the Republic of Georgia, among others, invited large delegations of international observers to judge their elections and were subsequently condemned internationally for widespread manipulation of the electoral process. Inspired by this empirical puzzle, this article addresses the following two-part question: First, why did the practice spread so widely when it is potentially costly for leaders to invite international observers to judge their elections? Second, why do so many leaders bother to invite observers when they know they are going to cheat?

Susan Hyde (2007), “Catch Me if You Can: Why Leaders Invite International Election Monitors and Cheat in Front of Them.” Unpublished paper. Available here.

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