Populist threats to electoral integrity:
The Year in Elections, 2016-2017
Pippa Norris and Max Grömping
There is widespread concern that elections around the globe commonly suffer from major flaws, whether from violence and conflict, corruption and coercion, or vote rigging and fraud.
In longstanding democracies, as well, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, there are worries about the risks of potential suppression of voters’ rights, impersonation at the polls, and technological vulnerability to hacking.
More recently, there is widespread concern that populism may undermine public confidence in democratic elections and worsen the performance of elections, including through foreign interference in democratic contests.
What is new?
PEI-5.0 expands coverage of elections held worldwide during 2016. Updating our previous work, based on the release of the Perceptions of Electoral Integrity dataset (PEI 5.0) in May 2017, this report compares 158 countries holding 241 elections from 1 July 2012 to 31 December 2016.
Part II of the report provides an overview of the latest results by global region and, to go beyond the numbers, highlights selected cases contrasting positive and negative practices. We focus on several elections held in 2016 --including the UK and Iceland in Western Europe, the United States in the Americas, Australia and the Philippines in Asia Pacific, Russia and Lithuania in Central and Eastern Europe, Iran and Syria in the MENA region, and Gambia and Gabon in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Part III presents the results of the new battery of items measuring problems of coercion and corruption in elections worldwide.
Part IV compares several recent European elections to see whether support for populists is rising or stalled, including in the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany.
This section identifies three mechanisms which heighten the potential risks of populism for free and fair elections, including through populists damaging public confidence in the electoral process, undermining international standards of electoral integrity and violating laws, and colluding with Russian interference in elections abroad.
Parts V and VI provide further reference and technical information.
The cumulative coverage of the PEI survey is comprehensive, representing 91% of all independent nation states holding national parliamentary and presidential elections around the world, excluding micro-states (with a population below 100,000).
The study provides independent assessments utilizing a rolling design where experts assess the quality of national elections one month after the close of the polls. The questionnaire contains 49 core items. Based on the views of 2,709 experts, the average response rate for PEI 5.0 is 28%. The technical appendix provides full details about the reliability and validity of the dataset.