This article studies the effect of domestic observers deployed to reduce irregularities in voter registration in a new
democracy, and in particular, the response of political parties’ agents to these observers. Because political parties
operate over large areas and party agents may relocate away from observed registration centers, observers may
displace rather than deter irregularities. We design and implement a large-scale two-level randomized field
experiment in Ghana in 2008 taking into account these spillovers and find evidence for substantial irregularities:
the registration increase is smaller in constituencies with observers; within these constituencies with observers, the
increase is about one-sixth smaller on average in electoral areas with observers than in those without; but some of
the deterred registrations appear to be displaced to nearby electoral areas. The finding of positive spillovers has
implications for the measurement of electoral irregularities or analysis of data collected by observers.
Empirical testing of competing theories lies at the heart of social science research. We demonstrate that a well-known class of statistical models, called finite mixture models, provides an effective way of rival theory testing. In the proposed framework, each observation is assumed to be generated either from a statistical model implied by one of the competing theories or more generally from a weighted combination of multiple statistical models under consideration. Researchers can then estimate the probability that a specific observation is consistent with each rival theory. By modeling this probability with covariates, one can also explore the conditions under which a particular theory applies.We discuss a principled way to identify a list of observations that are statistically significantly consistent with each theory and propose measures of the overall performance of each competing theory. We illustrate the relative advantages of our method over existing methods through empirical and simulation studies.
George Orwell’s classic novel “Animal Farm” is the definitive depiction of how any rebellion or social revolt risks not just failure but a reversal where one type of domination is merely exchanged for another. After the leaders of the animal rebellion take over, they impose a single commandment: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
It is not exactly the same, but recent developments in Acehnese politics are reminiscent of the animal farm. The Aceh Party, which was spawned by the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM), is heading in a worrying direction. Internal conflict among former combatants, as well as their desire to dominate the seats of power in the province, is driving Aceh into another phase of uncertainty.If the Aceh Party members continue to behave undemocratically, they will go down in history as nothing more than a ragtag bunch of ignoble former rebels who behaved eerily like their former “enemies.”
GAM was an ethnic nationalist movement that mobilized resistance through nationalistic fervor. The roots of the movement were in past injustices, but the conflict later evolved into an antagonistic identity dispute between Aceh and Jakarta.Especially during the New Order, the conflict reached a level where the idea of an independent Aceh became entrenched as a result of endless oppression and unjust treatment.As a movement, GAM took advantage of this. It pledged a promised land where democracy would rule and injustice would be a thing of the past. All of Aceh was dragged by the rebels into this independence narrative and into the lengthy struggle.The rebels in Aceh laid down their arms with the Helsinki peace agreement in 2005. The agreement brought an end to 30 years of war and provided a significant opportunity for the local people to manage their own affairs and participate in a democratic process as Aceh became a special autonomous region.All the trouble in Aceh was supposed to end there. Today, the reality is that it continues, and it is stubborn.The seeds for the current tension were planted with the first gubernatorial election soon after the peace agreement. The leadership of the rebels in exile supported a candidate who was not supported by the majority of former combatants. Ignoring the opinions of the former field commanders, the exiled leaders went ahead with their candidate — who ended up losing by a landslide.
The field commanders had used their networks of former combatants to provide strong backing for their candidate. Irwandi Yusuf was elected as the first governor of post-peace agreement Aceh, but his defiant victory upset the exiled leaders.These divided camps seemed to have reconciled in the legislative elections, when the exiled leadership and the field commanders agreed to jointly form a political party called Partai Aceh (Aceh Party) to stand a better chance of winning. The reconciliation bore fruit, with the Aceh Party winning the majority of the seats.Again, the field commanders and their networks provided the crucial machinery to ensure the victory.Winning a majority of the seats in the provincial legislature was supposed to put GAM in full control of the province and close the chapter on the rebellion, but it did not. Another problem was to about to surface.The Aceh Party, which was and is closely controlled by the exiled former leadership, had not forgotten the embarrassment of that first gubernatorial election and began working toward revenge.It started a low-level campaign against their unwanted elected governor, meaning that Aceh’s legislature, since the 2010 elections, has been a legislature that measures its success by how badly it can undermine Irwandi. Most of the policies introduced by the executive arm of the government are constantly being undermined by its legislative arm.
This time, the exiled leaders are in full control of the field commanders and legislature members who, by now, mostly pledge loyalty to the Aceh Party. For many field commanders, the Aceh Party is their vehicle to control the province both politically and economically. To achieve that goal, many of them have decided to stick together.This is the struggle that we see playing out today in the run-up to the second gubernatorial election. The Aceh Party supports the former exiled leader Zaini Abdullah and former GAM commander Muzakir Manaf, and refuses to support Irwandi despite the governor’s popularity.
To ensure the governor cannot even compete in the election they went so far as to propose a revision of the Election Law to bar independent candidates from running in elections.The dispute over independent candidates was politically motivated, intended to stop Irwandi and many other ex-rebels running in the election. Fortunately, it failed, though only after the Constitutional Court’s decision safeguarded the national law. Had it been successful, this attempt to block independent candidates would have been a reversal of democratic progress for the entire country.It is a nasty game in Aceh, where the players are willing to go so far as to undermine democratic progress and the peace process for their own purposes of retaliation, punishment and control — where all parties are equal, but some are more equal than others.
Mexican immigration figures have reached its lowest point since 2000. Yet, even if as a whole the US is receiving less Mexican migrants, the opposite is true for cities at the border. In this paper, I present evidence to show that this sui generis migration pattern cannot be understood using traditional explanations of migration dynamics. Instead, Mexicans are migrating because of security issues, fearing drug-related violence and extortion, which has spiked since 2008. I estimate that a total of 264,693 have migrated fearing organized crime activities. By doing so, I combine the literature of migration dynamics with the one of violence and crime, pointing towards ways in which non-state actors shape actions of state members.
The 2012 general election campaign is likely to be a fight for every last vote, which means that it will also be a fight over who gets to cast one.
Partisan skirmishing over election procedures has been going on in state legislatures across the country for several years. Republicans have called for cutbacks in early voting, an end to same-day registration, higher hurdles for ex-felons, the presentation of proof-of-citizenship documents and regulations discouraging registration drives. The centerpiece of this effort has been a national campaign to require voters to present particular photo ID documents at the polls. Characterized as innocuous reforms to preserve election integrity, beefed-up ID requirements have passed in more than a dozen states since 2005 and are still being considered in more than 20 others.
Opponents of the laws, mostly Democrats, claim that they are intended to reduce the participation of the young, of the poor and of minorities, who are most likely to lack government-issued IDs—and also most likely to vote Democratic.
Conflict over exercising the right to vote has been a longstanding theme in our history. The overarching trend, which we celebrate, has been greater inclusion: property requirements were dropped; racial barriers were formally eliminated; women were enfranchised.Yet there have always been counter trends. While the franchise expanded during some moments and in some places, it contracted in others, depriving Americans of a right they had once held. Between 1790 and 1850 - the period when property requirements were being dropped—four Northern states disenfranchised African-American voters, and New Jersey halted a 17-year experiment permitting women to vote. During this same period, nine states passed laws excluding “paupers” from political rights.
After Reconstruction, both major political parties attempted to constrict the electorate, albeit in different locales. In the South—as is well known—Democratic state legislatures employed a variety of devices, including literacy tests, poll taxes, “understanding” clauses and, eventually, Democratic primaries restricted to whites. As a result, African Americans were largely excluded from electoral participation from the 1890s until the 1960s.
In the North, similar, if less draconian, legal changes, generally sponsored by Republicans, targeted (among others) the millions of immigrant workers pouring into the country. In 1921, for example, New York State adopted an English-language literacy requirement for voters that remained in force (and was enforced) for decades. Almost invariably, these new limits on the franchise were fueled by partisan interests and ethnic or racial tensions; they were embraced by respectable Americans, like the eminent historian Francis Parkman, who had come to view universal suffrage as a “questionable blessing.”
Many of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century laws operated not by excluding specific classes of citizens but by erecting procedural obstacles that were justified as measures to prevent fraud or corruption. It was to “preserve the purity of the ballot box” that legislatures passed laws requiring voters to bring their sealed naturalization papers to the polls or to present written evidence that they had canceled their registration at any previous address or to register annually, in person, on one of only two Tuesdays.
The new procedures were widely recognized, by both their advocates and their targets, as having a far greater impact on some groups of voters—immigrants, blue-collar workers, the poor—than on others, and they often succeeded. In Pittsburgh in 1906, a personal registration law, sponsored by Republicans to check the influence of a crusading reformer, cut the number of registered voters in half.
In the 1930s, “pauper exclusion” laws were invoked to disenfranchise jobless men and women who were receiving relief. In 2000, Massachusetts disenfranchised prisoners after they formed an organization to promote inmate rights.
The targets of exclusionary laws have tended to be similar for more than two centuries: the poor, immigrants, African Americans, people perceived to be something other than “mainstream” Americans. No state has ever attempted to disenfranchise upper-middle-class or wealthy white male citizens.
The current wave of procedural restrictions on voting, including strict photo ID requirements, ought to be understood as the latest chapter in a not always uplifting story: Americans of both parties have sometimes rejected democratic values or preferred partisan advantage to fair democratic processes. Acknowledging the realities of our history should lead all of us to be profoundly skeptical of laws that burden, or impede, the exercise of what Lyndon B. Johnson called “the basic right, without which all others are meaningless.” More is at stake here than the outcome of the 2012 election. Even a cursory survey of world events over the last 20—or 100—years makes plain that democracies are fragile, that democratic institutions can be undermined from within. Ours are no exception.
We report on a study that used observations, conversations, and formal interviews to explore literacy instruction in 24 lower-primary classrooms in coastal Kenya. Specifically, we report the ways literacy instruction is delivered and how that delivery aligns with practices understood to promote reading acquisition. We find (1) prioritization of developing oral language skills over teaching the relationships between sounds and symbols, (2) enablers to literacy instruction that are the result of teachers’ efforts, and (3) constraints to successful literacy instruction as perceived by the teachers. We identify challenges and opportunities to improve literacy instruction in English and Swahili.
In 2006, Felipe Calderón narrowly defeated Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico’s hotly contested presidential election. Mexico’s 2006 presidential race demonstrated the importance of contested elections in democratic consolidation. Consolidating Mexico’s Democracy is at once a close examination of this historic election and an original contribution to the comparative study of elections throughout the world.The contributors to this volume—preeminent scholars from the fields of political science and government—make use of extensive research data to analyze the larger issues and voter practices at play in this election. With their exclusive use of panel surveys—where individuals are interviewed repeatedly to ascertain whether they have changed their voter preference during an election campaign—the contributors gather rich evidence that uniquely informs their assessment of the impact of the presidential campaign and the voting views of Mexican citizens.
The contributors find that, regardless of the deep polarization between the presidential candidates, the voters expressed balanced and nuanced political views, focusing on the perceived competence of the candidates. The essays here suggest the 2006 election, which was only the second fully free and competitive presidential election allowed by the Mexican government, edged the country closer to the pattern of public opinion and voting behavior that is familiar in well-established democracies in North America and Western Europe.
Africa is largely agrarian and the performance of agriculture shapes the performance of its economies. It has long been argued that economic development in Africa is strongly conditioned by politics. Recent changes in Africa’s political systems enables us to test this argument and, by extension, broader claims about the impact of political institutions on economic development. Building on a recent analysis of total factor productivity growth in African agriculture, we find that the introduction of competitive presidential elections in the last decades of the 20th Century appears to have altered political incentives, resulting in policy reforms that have enhanced the performance of farmers.
We revisit Lipset’s law, which posits a positive and significant relationship between income and democracy. Using dynamic and heterogeneous panel data estimation techniques, we find a significant and negative relationship between income and democracy: higher/lower incomes per capita hinder/trigger democratization. We thus challenge the recent empirical literature that found no such significant relationship. We attribute this result to the nature of the tax base, and exploit additional sources of heterogeneity. Decomposing overall income per capita into its resource and non-resource components, we find that the coefficient on the latter is positive and significant while that on the former is significant but negative.
After briefly reviewing the new institutionalism, this article uses the history of political reform in Africa to test its key tenet: that power, if properly organized, is a productive resource. It does so by exploring the relationship between changes in political institutions and changes in economic performance, both at the macro- and the micro-level. The evidence indicates that political reform (Granger) causes increases in GDP per capita in the African subset of global data. And, at the micro-level, it demonstrates that changes in national political institutions in Africa strongly relate to changes in total factor productivity in agriculture.
Africa experienced a wave of democratization over the past 20 years and this increase in democracy, we find, positively and significantly affects income per capita. Our dynamic panel data results suggest that countries only slowly converge to their long-run income values as predicted by current democracy levels, however: African countries may therefore be currently too democratic relative to their income levels. In keeping with this possibility, a significant number of countries experience political ‘back sliding’: elections are won by the use of illicit tactics, term limits on political leaders have been overturned and there have been unconstitutional seizures of power.
Using data from the last 150 years in a small set of countries, and from the postwar period in a large set of countries, we show that large investments in state primary education systems tend to occur when countries face military rivals or threats from their neighbors. By contrast, we find that democratic transitions are negatively associated with education investments, while the presence of democratic political institutions magnifies the positive effect of military rivalries. These empirical results are robust to a number of statistical concerns and continue to hold when we instrument military rivalries with commodity prices or rivalries in a certain country’s immediate neighborhood. We also present historical case studies, as well as a simple model, that are consistent with the econometric evidence.
Should we pay children to read books or to get good grades? Should we allow corporations to pay for the right to pollute the atmosphere? Is it ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs or to donate their organs? What about hiring mercenaries to fight our wars? Auctioning admission to elite universities? Selling citizenship to immigrants willing to pay?In What Money Can’t Buy, Michael J. Sandel takes on one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: Is there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale? If so, how can we prevent market values from reaching into spheres of life where they don’t belong? What are the moral limits of markets?
In recent decades, market values have crowded out nonmarket norms in almost every aspect of life—medicine, education, government, law, art, sports, even family life and personal relations. Without quite realizing it, Sandel argues, we have drifted from having a market economy to being a market society. Is this where we want to be?In his New York Times bestseller Justice, Sandel showed himself to be a master at illuminating, with clarity and verve, the hard moral questions we confront in our everyday lives. Now, in What Money Can’t Buy, he provokes an essential discussion that we, in our market-driven age, need to have: What is the proper role of markets in a democratic society—and how can we protect the moral and civic goods that markets don’t honor and that money can’t buy?