Do international election monitors increase or decrease opposition boycotts?
Election boycotts are over twice as common when international observers are present. Do international observers increase election boycotts as this correlation and past research suggest? This article argues not. Observers tend to go to elections with many problems, and it is primarily these, rather than monitors, that drive boycotts. Furthermore, opposition parties have reasons to hope that observers can improve the quality of the election or that they will increase attention to election fraud, and therefore opposition parties may actually abandon boycott plans. Whether they do, however, depends on their expectations about how the observers will behave. This makes it important to account for the varying reputation of observer organizations. Thus, using matching to address the selection problem, this article shows that international observers can actually deter boycotts, but only if the observers are reputable. © The Author(s) 2011.
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