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Establishing Electoral Administration Systems in New Democracies

Discussion Papers


by KAWANAKA Takeshi and ASABA Yuki
August 2011


The difficulty of holding fair elections continues to be a critical problem in many newly democratized countries. The core of the problem is the electoral administration’s lack of political autonomy and capability to regulate fraud. This paper seeks to identify the conditions for establishing an autonomous and capable electoral administration system. An electoral administration system has two main functions: to disclose the nature of elections and to prevent fraud. We argue in this paper that an autonomous and capable electoral administration system exists if the major political players have the incentive to disclose the information on the elections and to secure the ruler’s credible commitment to fair elections. We examine this argument through comparative case studies of Korea and the Philippines. Despite similar historical and institutional settings, their election commissions exhibit contrasting features. The difference in the incentive structures of the major political players seems to have caused the divergence in the institutional evolution of the election commissions in the two countries.

Keywords: democracy, institution, election, Korea, the Philippines

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