Friday, January 23, 2015

State Capacity and Election Administration During Conflict

After the August 2014 announcement that Ukraine would hold early parliamentary elections, Nazar Boyko and I developed survey instruments to better understand how election administrators assessed their training and preparation, compensation, election processes, and potential outside influences.* The surveys are part of a larger project that investigates state capacity through election administration, using the unique circumstances of conflict and occupation to gauge how the state has responded to challenges.

The surveys were implemented from late September 2014-late November 2014, in collaboration with the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology. We recently made presentations at the Southern Political Science Association Annual Conference and at a George Washington University-sponsored workshop to introduce some of our preliminary observations from the survey data.

We have found evidence of institutional, temporal, spatial, and partisan effects on the responses of administrators, and are currently analyzing the data to better understand how district-level and precinct-level commissions functioned during the parliamentary election.

A few highlights of our findings include:
  • DEC respondents reported heightened pre-election concerns, lower levels of party-based financial support, and more awareness of technical parties than their PEC counterparts.
  • PEC respondents tended to show higher levels of concern/lower levels of confidence in the pre-election survey compared to the post-election survey. 
  • Respondents located in the Eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk showed elevated concerns about safety and security, and less confidence in their preparation. While this outcome is not surprising given conflict in the region, the effects did not seem to "spill over" into contiguous regions.** 
  • Post-election survey participants in the West were the most likely to report that falsification was common, followed by participants in the East. However, reports of falsification were limited.
  • Commissioners nominated by affiliates of the former ruling party were more likely to express concerns than commissioners nominated by former opposition parties. 
The paper describing our preliminary findings is available online. We welcome comments and suggestions.
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*This research was funded by grants from PACT/UNITER/USAID and the National Science Foundation (SES-1461220). We also acknowledge essential collaboration from the Central Electoral Commission of Ukraine, Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, and IFES.

** We will refine the analysis to include other spatial measures, including distances between commissions. If these findings hold, however, it suggests that the conflict - and its consequences - have been compartmentalized by administrators. That is, the conflict was viewed as a localized phenomenon and fear of contagion was not present.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Local Machine Politics and Elections in Ukraine

At this year's Southern Political Science Association Conference, I presented a paper (co-authored with Fredrik Sjoberg) assessing local political machines and electoral competition in Ukraine.

While the business sector has legitimate policy interests and the right to lobby for particular outcomes, it has often been accused of using illegitimate means to secure its preferred policies. Extending studies that describe machine politics in Ukraine, our paper investigates the connection between "boss" candidates and allegations of fraud, using data from the 2012 parliamentary elections. We combined candidate biographies, election results, and crowdsourced election observation data, and found that higher levels of competition among boss candidates is associated with higher levels of vote buying allegations. The analysis did not produce significant findings for other types of voter manipulation.

While the research should not be used to excoriate all business sector candidates who compete in Ukraine, it provides evidence that business sector participation is associated with specific fraud tactics, especially those which provide a competitive advantage to bosses.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Myths, Misconceptions, and Misdirections in the Ukrainian Conflict

I was recently invited by Professor Geir Flikke of the Department of Literature, Area Studies, and European Languages at the University of Oslo to make public presentations about the current conflict in Ukraine to various constituencies in Norway. The Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) presented a live stream of my remarks and the Q&A that followed the talk. The entire session is embedded below.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Spatial Variation in the Administration of Ukraine's 2014 Snap Presidential Election

In a forthcoming article in the journal Eurasian Geography and Economics (co-authored with Nazar Boyko and Roman Sverdan), we assess an unusual phenomenon in the staffing of Ukraine's polling stations during the 2014 snap presidential election. Partisanship is the key factor used to allocate commission positions, and historically candidates and parties have provided a full slate of administrators to manage election processes. However, in the snap presidential election, candidates did not supply adequate personnel, requiring District Electoral Commissions to step in and fill gaps. We assess regional and partisan explanations for variation in the level of personnel contributions. Notably, proximity to areas of conflict was not a significant factor explaining variation in staffing. Rather, candidates (especially with past connections to the Party of Regions) failed to mobilize staff members in certain regions of the country. In the paper (available here in draft form), we address how partisanship interacted with region, and evaluate how staffing practices affected election results.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Washington Post - Monkey Cage Blog on the Upcoming Parliamentary Elections in #Ukraine

As preparations move forward for the October 26 snap parliamentary elections in Ukraine, Nazar Boyko (CIFRA Group) and I evaluate challenges facing administrators, parties, and voters on the Washington Post's Monkey Cage Blog.

The published piece omitted a couple of acknowledgements. We thank Roman Sverdan (CIFRA Group) for the visualizations and Brian Mefford (Committee for Open Democracy) for election observation data.