Election `Wars': Great Power and Democracy

Book Manuscript


"Election `Wars': Great Power and Democracy" is about how great powers back local allies in elections, how that affects democracy promotion, the policy positions candidates take, levels of corruption in the affected countries, and about the long-term consequences.  Cases include USSR-Finland, US-Christian Democracts in Italy, Russia/US and Ukraine.  There is also a large N component.

We have a number of stylized facts linking foreign support to the positions competing candidates take in elections, and their performance at the polls.  First, foreign support for candidates happens often but does not appear associated with electoral success for the supported party.  Second, foreign support is often associated with increased corruption in the receiving state.  Third, foreign support sometimes leads to greater polarization of the policy positions of the competing candidates in elections on the issues the foreigners care about whereas at other times it seems to drive them together.

My book manuscript pursues the question of what happens when elections turn proxy wars, in which great powers sometimes intervene to promote democracy, sometimes interfere to support local allies, and sometimes do both.  Great power interventions can further the agenda of the sponsors but often also weaken democracy, increase corruption, and lead to violence.  Two papers off that trajectory, set in the Middle East, have been published (American Journal of Political Science and Democratization).  Both are based on a survey-experiment on outsiders in the Lebanese elections.  The project was awarded Best Paper award in IR by the Midwest Political Science Association in 2010. 

Two papers are slated to go under review in 2016 (one was submitted May 3d, 2016), together with the book manuscript.  The broader research agenda is on external influences on democratization.

The book is tentatively titled "Election Wars: Great Power Interventions in Democracy".  It tells the story of Finland, where the USSR got very significant concessions from the government, while trying to support the left with various offers of foreign aid after WWII. Also part of the book is American Support for the Christian Democrats, the race in Bosnia, in which Plavsic, the “NATO” candidate lost, and the elections in which Hamas defeated Fatah in 2000.  The Ukrainian elections, with pro-Western and pro-Russian factions, provide yet another set of cases.

The emphasis on outside powers jockeying for influence in domestic politics demonstrates the continuity with my dissertation research, on economic sanctions and the fate of leaders (American Journal of Political Science).