By Sharon F. Lean (auth.)
What is the function of civic institutions in producing electoral responsibility, and the way do efforts through nationwide teams to make sure loose and reasonable elections improve democratic consolidation? Lean advances our realizing of ways civic activism can advance election techniques and offers new perception into function of elections for democratic consolidation.
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Extra resources for Civil Society and Electoral Accountability in Latin America
These exercises in international election administration were quite different in nature from the observation of government-administered elections in sovereign states (Beigbeder 1994, 98). The early OAS missions were generally composed of just two or three observers, and their principal role was to provide a diplomatic presence in support of the electoral process, not to conduct a systematic audit (Pastor 1999, 127). 8 The Permanent Council of the OAS charged them “to witness on a personal basis, in accordance with the nature, purposes, and principles on which the Organization is based, the general elections” (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 1985).
The case of El Salvador is an illustrative example. At the height of that country’s civil war, amid sustained international outcry over the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in March 1980 and the murder of four US churchwomen in December 1980, the United States began to pressure the Salvadoran junta to hold elections to improve its image (Karl 1988, 174). In 1982, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) provided aid to the Salvadoran government to hold an election to form a Constitutional Assembly.
This election, won by a former Trujillo ofﬁcial, Joaquin Balaguer, who had tacit US support, was criticized as a “demonstration election” (more on this later) in which the presence of observers seemed to validate a ﬂawed process (Herman and Broadhead 1984, 43–44). Balaguer went on to rule as an “elected authoritarian” from 1966 to 1978 (Hartlyn 1998, 98). Despite this setback, the OAS returned to participate in Dominican elections in 1978. 9 Balaguer’s principal opponent won with 52% of the vote, but Balaguer only conceded after international pressure dissuaded the military (which had at one point intervened to stop the vote count) from circumventing the results in order to keep him in power.