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Dangerous Contenders: Election Monitors, Islamic Opposition Parties and Terrorism

Kavakli, Kerim Can; Kuhn, Patrick M

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Kerim Can Kavakli


How do international observers decide whether to criticize or condone electoral fraud in a country? We argue that this decision depends on the identity of the victims of electoral fraud. A monitoring organization is more likely to overlook fraud commit- ted against groups that are deemed dangerous by its sponsor. Based on this insight, we hypothesize that in the post-Cold War era election monitors are more tolerant of fraud against Islamic challengers, especially when Islamic movements are perceived as a threat to political stability. In support of our hypothesis, we nd that outside moni- tors are more likely to endorse an election in countries with an Islamic opposition party and an ongoing Islamist terrorist campaign. Furthermore, we nd that the eect is driven by Western monitoring organizations and becomes stronger after the September 11 attacks. Our ndings provide a simple yet powerful insight: the calculus of outside observers depends not only on who they wish to see in power, but also who they want to keep from power.


Kavakli, K. C., & Kuhn, P. M. (2020). Dangerous Contenders: Election Monitors, Islamic Opposition Parties and Terrorism. International Organization, 74(1), 145-164.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 2, 2019
Online Publication Date Nov 11, 2019
Publication Date 2020
Deposit Date May 7, 2019
Publicly Available Date May 7, 2019
Journal International Organization
Print ISSN 0020-8183
Electronic ISSN 1531-5088
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 74
Issue 1
Pages 145-164


Published Journal Article (Advance online version) (322 Kb)

Copyright Statement
Advance online version

Accepted Journal Article (482 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This article has been published in a revised form in Internation Organization This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © The IO Foundation 2019.

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