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Monitors and Meddlers: How Foreign Actors Influence Local Trust in Elections, Lauren Prather and Sarah Sunn Bush

Reviewed by Dov H. Levin
 

National-level elections have been interfered for centuries by foreign states bent on determining the identity of the winners. Over the last few decades, elections are also being increasingly intervened in by another, usually neutral, kind of foreign actor—foreign election observers attempting to assess and guarantee the elections' overall fairness. In this new book, Sarah Sunn Bush and Lauren Prather attempt to examine the effects of both types of foreign interventions in the overall credibility of the election result in the trust of the target population—a factor that can play a key role in the citizens' overall satisfaction with their regime and the ultimate establishment and survival of democracy.

Bush and Prather use, as their starting point, the “conventional wisdom” (45) that assumes nearly automatic significant positive effects on trust for both the presence of election monitors and positive postelection reports by them and for negative effects on trust for exposed, suspected (or public) electoral interventions. They then develop a more sophisticated conditional theory focused on when and how it can affect the perceptions of the average citizen in the target. This theory argues that the effects of interference are conditional on how unbiased and capable the foreign intervener is perceived as being as well as the preexisti

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