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.
*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.