Discussion Papers

No.536 The Stakes of Politics and Electoral Administration: A Comparative Study of Southeast Asian Democracies

by KAWANAKA Takeshi

October 2015


Elections play a crucial role in political stability in post-democratization, and electoral administrations are the key to the electoral process. However, not all newly democratized countries have established reliable electoral administration. New democracies in Southeast Asia, such as the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, have independent election commissions which have different characteristics, especially in terms of neutrality. Based on three cases, this paper claims that the stakes of politics are the major determinant of the variations in neutrality. The high stakes of politics in Thailand brought about the partisan election commission, while the low stakes in Indonesia made the electoral system relatively neutral. Like Thailand, the high stakes of politics in the Philippines also cause political intervention in the electoral administration.

Keywords: democracy, election, electoral administration, Southeast Asia, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, the stakes of politics

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