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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details for Dr Patrick M Kuhn

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

Author(s) from Durham


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 e ect 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.