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Strategies of Actors Influencing Electoral Integrity: A Case Study of the Czech Republic

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Abstract

The goal of this study is to examine the behaviour of electoral stakeholders that has influenced the quality of parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic since the 1998 elections. The text attempts to answer these questions: ‘What kinds of strategies do political actors use in electoral processes that decrease the quality of elections?’ ‘Do these tactics vary over time?’ ‘Are they efficient?’ ‘Who are the actors?’ The Czech Republic, as a newly established democracy, features comparably very high electoral integrity, while neighbouring countries experience (from time to time) electoral problems. This work aims to describe the behaviour of electoral stakeholders in order to understand whether they behave in a manner which maintains a high level of electoral integrity. The framework for analysis is constructed on the background of Andreas Schedler’s work (2002; 2013) with respect to influencing the level of institutional rules or the game within those rules. The analysis consists of different kinds of data sources. Among these, election observation mission reports, parties’ strategic documents (party manifestos), secondary analyses (providing the explanation of behaviour), and news (offering information about behaviour on a daily basis) are most important. The results will provide a description of primary electoral stakeholder behaviour, which then allows us to better understand how they affect electoral integrity.
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Strategies of Actors
Inuencing Electoral Integrity:
A Case Study of the Czech Republic*
Ivan Jar abInsk ý**
Abstract
The goal of this study is to examine the behaviour of electoral stakeholders that has inuenced the
quality of parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic since the 1998 elections. The text attempts
to answer these questions: ‘What kinds of strategies do political actors use in electoral processes
that decrease the quality of elections?’ ‘Do these tactics vary over time?’ ‘Are they ecient?’ ‘Who are
the actors?’ The Czech Republic, as a newly established democracy, features comparably very high
electoral integrity, while neighbouring countries experience (from time to time) electoral problems.
This work aims to describe the behaviour of electoral stakeholders in order to understand wheth-
er they behave in a manner which maintains a high level of electoral integrity. The framework for
analysis is constructed on the background of Andreas Schedler’s work (2002; 2013) with respect to
inuencing the level of institutional rules or the game within those rules. The analysis consists of
dierent kinds of data sources. Among these, election observation mission reports, parties’ stra-
tegic documents (party manifestos), secondary analyses (providing the explanation of behaviour),
and news (oering information about behaviour on a daily basis) are most important. The results
will provide a description of primary electoral stakeholder behaviour, which then allows us to better
understand how they aect electoral integrity.
Keywords: electoral integrity; elites; stakeholder; strategy; Czech Republic; parliament
DOI: 10.5817/PC2017-3-249
1. Introduction
Quality elections are a necessary condition for democracy. On the one hand, for those
who understand elections to be the exclusive component of democracy (Schumpeter 2004;
* e article has been written as part of the specic research project of the Department of Political Science
FSS MU “Current Issues in Political Science II” (MUNI/A/1110/2015), undertaken by the Department of
Political Science, Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University. I would like to thank to Max Grömping
for his valuable comments on a dra of this article. anks are also due to anonymous reviewers. An
earlier version of this article was presented at the 10th ECPR General Conference in Prague in 2016.
** Ivan Jarabinský (389860@mail.muni.cz) is a PhD student at the Department of Political Science, Fac-
ulty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, Joštova 10, 602 00 Brno and a Research Associate at the Insti-
tute for Evaluations and Social Analyses (INESAN), Heřmanova 22, 170 00 Praha 7.
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Huntington 1991: 5–13), a high level of quality is central to the quality of democracy and
leads to a high level of electoral integrity, which is especially important during democratic
transitions. On the other hand, the denitions of liberal democracy that use additional cri-
teria, such as protection of individual rights, separation of powers, or the rule of law (Zaka-
ria 1997: 22), make elections only part of the story. But what all of the denitions have in
common is that they assume that elections are free and fair or based on a level playing eld.
e terms ‘electoral integrity’ and ‘quality of elections’ are interchangeable in this work.
To be clear, these terms dier from Pippa Norris’s well-known denition based on interna-
tionally shared principles and in this work the term is approached normatively. It is based
on Andreas Schedler’s (2013: 83–87) concept of eective democratic choice, and the follow-
ing negative strategies are based on this concept. While it includes the various dimensions
of choice in democratic elections, the eects of the negative strategies are based on their
impact on the indicators of good elections that were formulated by Sarah Birch (2011);
these depict the individual parts of the electoral cycle as well (see below). To be clear, this
study does not assess the quality of elections, but these concepts are helpful in understand-
ing exactly why and how ones behaviour may negatively inuence the integrity of elections.
Empirical studies have shown the inuence of historical, structural, and institutional
background on the quality of elections (Birch 2008; 2010; Brusco et al. 2004; Kolev 2014;
Lindberg 2006; Van Ham 2012; 2013; Zibblatt 2009). e outcomes of these studies certain-
ly help to understand the general trends in the quality of elections, however, they still do not
provide any helpful information when applied to some cases, among which the most striking
are the USA, Rwanda, etc. (see Norris et al. 2014). In attempts to explain such outliers, it is
therefore necessary to analyse the level of electoral actors and their behaviour more deeply.
In this study, I argue that it is worth using a framework based on observations in
non-democratic countries to see whether any forms of electoral manipulations can be con-
ducted in democratic countries, as it is possible that the same manipulations can be used in
smaller scales. ese manipulations can be present with various intensity at dierent time
points and even small scale problems have the potential to intensify, if and when they are
accepted by the public or other actors. In this sense, this is an instrumental case study which
makes it possible to apply the concept based on experience from a non-democratic regime
in a democratic country.
Additionally, the study enriches the research eld of electoral integrity by combining
disaggregation of various forms of malpractice or fraud on dierent levels. At the same
time, various actors are associated with these negative strategies. Contrary to recent lit-
erature, this study goes beyond solely observing governmental actors and it dierentiates
various kinds of actors, their use of the negative strategies and their success in doing so.
e quality of democratic elections diers across countries, and (un)problematic elec-
tions are not made by themselves. e drivers of dierent trajectories of electoral integrity
in given contexts are the political actors who are interested in electoral results. is study
follows the work of Jarabinský (2015), who demonstrated that the overall quality of Czech
elections to the Chamber of Deputies has been rather stagnate in recent years and that the
reasons for this stagnation do not always seem to be the same. erefore, the logical goal
now is to examine the behaviour of important actors who inuence the quality of parlia-
mentary elections in the Czech Republic. e text attempts to answer these questions:
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What kinds of strategies do political actors use in electoral processes that decrease the qual-
ity of elections? Do these tactics vary over time? Are they ecient? Who are the actors?
Until now, the behaviour of Czech electoral stakeholders in elections has been a matter
for news and media rather than academic research (with the exception of studies connected
to electoral campaigns). is study therefore oers a new perspective on Czech elections,
which are otherwise quite substantively explored.
e Czech Republic, founded in 1993 aer the transition from a nondemocratic
communist regime to democracy, established formally free and fair elections by the law
247/1995 Coll. In the post-transitional era, the new democratic elections cannot, by their
nature, prevent previous ‘nondemocratic’ incumbents from candidacy. e uncertainty of
electoral outcomes must be achieved (Przeworski 1991: 13). Some incumbents thus usually
get some seats in legislative bodies, whether as members of their original (or transformed)
party or via their aliation with another party. is premise is derived from the analyses of
the post-communist arena in which, no matter whether they negate the hypothesis of the
circulation of elites (Szelényi, Szelényi 1995; Wasilewski, Wnuk-Lipiński 1995) or conrm
it (Staniszkis 1991: 99–100; Szelényi, Szelényi 1995; Wasilewski, Wnuk-Lipiński 1995), it is
demonstrated that there is no radical distinction separating previous ‘nondemocratic’ elites
from the ‘democratic’ ones, but rather that the processes of change are ‘path-dependent and
involutionary’ (Szelényi, Szelényi 1995: 622). erefore, the same actors who were incum-
bents during the nondemocratic era can inuence the consolidation of the newly established
democracies. As Rustow notes: ‘during the formative period […] part of the quarrel must ex
hypothesi be between democrats and nondemocrats’ (1970: 345). erefore, the assumption
that the behaviour (or thinking) of these actors (and also some others who had grown up in
the nondemocratic era) has completely changed under new circumstances can be rejected.
On top of that, Norris adds that ‘strictly speaking (…) every election is ‘manipulated’, even in
the most democratic states’ (Norris 2014: 8).
e Czech Republic is one case in which the Communist party1 has refused to sub-
stantially reform itself while some of its members also became aliated with other newly
established parties. is text, therefore, focuses on the behaviour of electoral stakeholders
in the Czech Republic in order to understand whether their behaviour is unproblematic
(or how it changes over time) with respect to the quality of elections. Mainly because of the
(lack of) availability of long-term comparative data, this text will analyse the period from
1998 to 2013 electoral cycle.
It is reasonable to expect some problems connected with the Czech elections to the
lower chamber of the Parliament, however, the insight provided by the comparative data is
rather positively shocking. e Electoral Integrity Project ranked the 2013 Czech elections
at 11th place in its overall integrity assessment of 132 observed legislative elections in the
world since 2012 and 3rd place among Central and East European countries (Norris et al.
2016). According to V-Dem data (electoral democracy index), Czech elections have been
ranked rst among the Central and East European countries for almost the entire period
from 1990 to 2012 (Teorell et al. 2016; Coppedge et al. 2016). erefore, the Czech Republic
is an appropriate case for study because it is a well-established electoral democracy and
there is a theoretical expectation that problematic behaviour of electoral stakeholders can
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252
be found within this democracy. is combination potentially provides a fruitful context
for testing the following concept of negative strategies based on the experience from the
nondemocratic milieu.
But there is another reason for observing the Czech elections in the light of tendencies
which have recently negatively aected democracies in Central Europe. As available V-Dem
data show, the quality of elections (electoral democracy index) has slightly decreased in
Hungary and Poland in recent years (Teorell et al. 2016; Coppedge et al. 2016). is cor-
responds to some authoritarian tendencies observed by some political commentators (e.g.
Pehe 2016). e goal of electoral stakeholders is, among other things, to win future elec-
tions and therefore they are tempted to settle conditions in their favour. Assessments have
shown that Hungarian civil liberties have been on the decline since 2012. is is due to
several controversial changes, some of which negatively aected the quality of the 2014
elections, which in turn negatively impacted political rights in 2015 (FreedomHouse.org).
A similar situation can be seen in Poland, however data on the impact it has had on parlia-
mentary elections is still missing. However, as mentioned above, it is possible to expect an
uneven playing eld in the upcoming elections there. erefore, it seems timely to observe
the behaviour of Czech elites with respect to the rst-order elections to see whether their
behaviour ts the above-mentioned trend.
ere are three main branches of electoral studies literature which deal with political
actors’ behaviour, i.e. studies of nondemocratic regimes (e.g. Magaloni 2010; Gandhi, Lust-
Okar 2009), transitional literature (e.g. Bermeo 2010), and electoral engineering (e.g. Be-
noit 2004). ese studies are not always necessarily directly connected to the quality of
elections, but their ndings may shed light on actor behaviour under dierent conditions.
e rst bunch of studies usually focuses either on the relationship between incumbents
and the opposition in the electoral process and the ability of the latter to change any prede-
termined outcomes or it focuses on how authoritarian rulers succeed in staying in power.
e transition studies focus more on decision-making processes bound to regime change.
e last group, electoral engineering studies, is more typically found in studies of demo-
cratic regimes, because changing electoral rules is a legitimate tool for achieving the out-
comes preferred by society. Based on the above-mentioned premise, this text builds upon
the knowledge of all of these research elds.
e rst part of this study, therefore, builds upon this knowledge and creates the frame-
work for later analysis. en the data is presented and processed. is is followed by the
study of the Czech case, specically including the types of negative strategies used and the
impact they have, trends in the use of the negative strategies, and who the actors are who
implement them.
2. Negative Strategies in Elections: A Framework for Analysis
e main ndings of recent studies on the behaviour of electoral stakeholders are usu-
ally in line with the expected (or perceived) rational behaviour of electoral stakeholders
(Benoit 2004; Bermeo 2010). e goal is to maximize electoral gain. When considering
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tactics which deteriorate electoral quality, it is possible to observe two kinds of goals. e
rst is the short-term goal of winning upcoming elections. e second is the pursuit of the
longer-term goal of increasing the odds of winning future elections.2 is is in accordance
with Shugart’s (2008) contingent factors that drive the electoral system’s change. Systemic
failures, as a normative component, cannot change electoral systems by themselves. Contin-
gent factors are, in this sense, a necessary condition for institutional change while including
both short- and long-term goals.
Victory, however, especially in democracies, is usually linked to the ability to compete.
is means that outcomes are not determined by the institutional design alone, but also
by the behaviour of electoral stakeholders. rough the implementation of various tactics,
stakeholders can inuence electoral outcomes within the given rules. In theory, clear and
unbiased rules actually prevent predicting who will win an election before the results are
nal, because everyone has theoretically similar chances. According to Mozaar’s and Sche-
dler’s (2002) work based on Przeworski (1988) and Tsebelis (1990), this makes it necessary
to reduce the uncertainty of the rules. On the other hand, a great amount of uncertainty
in outcomes should also be maintained, because it means that electoral stakeholders can
behave freely within the given rules. Authoritarian leaders have two kinds of ‘bad’ goals:
reducing the uncertainty of electoral outcomes (game) and increasing the uncertainty of
electoral rules (meta-game). Achieving both of these goals increases an actor’s ability to un-
fairly win. While the former should be linked rather with authoritarian actors, the latter is
more characteristic for democratic ones (Mozaar, Schedler 2002: 11). is dierentiation
also provides deeper insight into the logic of individual actors when they are involved in
wrongdoings.
In the literature, behaviour which deteriorates electoral integrity can be seen as elector-
al systemic manipulations, frauds, and malpractice (Birch 2011; Jarabinský 2013; Vickery,
Shein 2012). is negative approach to the quality of elections seems to be unsustainable,
because as Schedler notes: ‘e requirements of democratic elections are steep, the possibilities
of subverting them manifold’ (2013: 101). However, the goal of this work is not to assess the
quality of elections, but to understand the way that certain actors endanger the quality of
elections, and therefore this approach is justiable.
To achieve those ‘bad’ goals, only negative strategies are considered. In this study, a
negative strategy is one which inuences the quality of elections negatively. is means that
the results of some strategies or behaviour are not necessarily intended and they can acci-
dentally lead to the deterioration of an election. However, in practice it is very dicult to
distinguish which behaviour is intended and which merely has negative side-eects on elec-
toral integrity. erefore, it is necessary to keep in mind that there is a very high probability
that there is a great deal of data bias in terms of the strategies implemented in the real world.
is is because, at this level of depth and extent, it is not possible to unearth strategies which
were intended but never put into practice.
For this study, it is better to build the analysis on strategies dened by Schedler (2002;
2013) rather than by other authors (such as Birch 2011; Hyde 2008), because he provides
more general strategies instead of specic tools for studying manipulation (e.g. corruption
vs. vote-buying; exclusion of opposition actors vs. jailing of candidates, etc.). Besides that,
Schedler’s framework formulates general strategies of electoral manipulation, while other
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Table 1: Strategies deteriorating the quality of elections on the level of rules and outcomes
Schedler’s original
strategies
Meta-game (rules) Game (outcomes)
To increase the uncertainty of rules To reduce the uncertainty of outcomes
Reserved positions A1 Reserved positions Only some seats are elected, not all
of them
 
Reserved domains A2 Reserved domains Restricting domains of potential
winners from their eective decision
making, limiting the jurisdiction
 
Exclusion of
opposition actors
A3 Non-standard legal
exclusion of certain actors
Rules inconsistent with legitimate
requirements (except those directly
aecting voters) which exclude
certain actors
B1 Illegal exclusion or
inclusion of certain actors
Exclusion of certain actors (not
voters) although they meet necessary
requirements, or using the law
against political dissent to guard the
gates to electoral competition to
keep opponents out of the electoral
arena; complete physical elimination
(not threats). Inclusion of those who
did not meet the requirements
Fragmentation of
opposition actors
A4 Legal restrictions on
actors’ cooperation
Setting rules which complicate free
cooperation among parties
B2 Informal fragmentation
of the opposition
(corruption, intimidation)
Corruption and intimidation of
political actors (not voters) which
aect actors’ potential coordination
eorts
Subversion   B3 Creating or controlling
a subsidiary party to take
advantage of electoral rules
(substitution)
Creating a party personally or
institutionally connected to another
party; these parties cooperate to
circumvent the spirit of the law
Repression A5 Repression (of civil and
political liberties) through
legal discrimination
Legal discrimination (except
surage) and limitations of basic
civil and political liberties (such as
freedom of assembly, etc.)
B4 Repression (of civil and
political liberties)
Unsecured environment; violation
of physical integrity; state-made
violence, state-tolerated violence;
targeted economic pressures;
restricting political and civil liberties;
endangering personal integrity
Unfairness A6 Legal restrictions on
media and money
Unfair rules for access to resources
and media, unfair conditions
B5 Practical media and
monetary restrictions
Unfair practices of competition;
limited space for opposition/other
actors
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Formal
disenfranchisement
A7 Formal
disenfranchisement
Legal surage restrictions
Informal
disenfranchisement
  B6 Informal
disenfranchisement
/ illegitimate
enfranchisement
Exclusion of certain groups of
citizens, killings, displacement,
but also requiring discriminatory
registration methods of identication
in practice / carousel voting, buses,
etc
Coercion A8 Open voting Public voting, non-binding secrecy of
voting act
B7 Coercion Citizens are not free in their electoral
choice, they are forced to vote in
certain way (usually under threats
of force, economic deprivation, and
social disapproval)
Corruption   B8 Corruption of voters Voters are corrupted (vote buying;
massive forms of patronage
distribution)
Redistributive
institutions of
electoral governance
A9 Unfair rules of the
electoral system
Votes are not equal  
Redistributive
practices of electoral
governance
  B9 Unfair counting,
tabulation, reporting of
results
Votes are not treated equally
Tutelage   B10 Tutelage Alternative (veto) actor’s inuence on
an elected body when (s)he reduces
the body’s powers; on paper it is ok,
but in reality there are other actors
inuencing the decision makers
Reversion   B11 Reversion Coup in which a non-democratic
actor nullies results; keeping
elected ocials from their posts or
ousting them before the expiration
of their mandate
Source: Author and Schedler 2013.
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256
authors (Birch 2011; Jarabinský 2013), who use a negative approach in assessing elections,
combine negative strategies with positively dened categories in which they observe vari-
ous kinds of problems. In other words, they simply don’t provide the full range of negative
strategies but combine them with general electoral areas.
On the other hand, it is easy to observe overlap among Schedler’s strategies.3 Keeping
that in mind, I dene his strategies further (table 1) in order to avoid any overlap and I sep-
arate them according to the level of manipulation, i.e. manipulation of rules (meta-game)
and outcomes (game).
It is clear that table 1 slightly diers from Schedler’s table, in which every single row (15)
corresponds to one of Schedler’s (see 2013: 84) strategies. is is because the strategies have
been separated into dierent levels of manipulation, and the concept for the context of demo-
cratic countries has been slightly stretched. As Gandhi and Lust-Oskar note, a ‘view of authori-
tarian elections [is] conceptually similar to democratic ones and underscore important dierenc-
es that remain to be explored. ere are some important similarities that allow for the use of the
same conceptual toolkit in studying democratic and nondemocratic elections’ (2009: 407–408).
Last but not least, this is also due to the necessity to separate some overlapping categories.
In table 1, the respective levels of manipulation for each particular strategy are provided
in the right sub-columns under both the meta-game and game columns. Unlike work which
deals with the context of authoritarian regimes, it is important to consider all actors as hav-
ing the potential to use strategies which can decrease the quality of elections. With this in
mind, it might then be possible to understand the nature of democratic politics.
e perspective of the actors is considered in the analysis. ere are clearly many elec-
toral stakeholders, such as political parties, individuals, electoral ocers, the judiciary, etc.
Actors with no interest in electoral results can be manipulated by those interested in out-
comes, and thus the latter are the ones worth analysing. For the purpose of this analysis,
actors are separated into several categories, including government (dened by an individual
or party in government), opposition (parliamentary party or individual outside govern-
ment), non-parliamentary actor, administration, and other (such as president, judiciary,
foreign country or organization, or NGO). e last category, other, was later developed into
the categories of president and unknown (where it is impossible to identify certain actor).
3. Data for Analysis
e analysis uses qualitative content analysis, which is based on dierent kinds of sources.
e most important are (election) monitoring reports (OSCE4 reports or other (N)GOs),
laws (linked to elections), parties’ strategic documents (party manifestos), secondary anal-
yses (providing the explanation of behaviour), and judiciary complaints (addressed to the
Constitutional court or to the Supreme Administrative Court). en, there are other addi-
tional and supporting sources such as news reports (oering information about behaviour
on a daily basis), expert opinions, and parliamentary voting records. ese sources are the
same as used in Jarabinský (2015) except for party manifestos, which are added for the
purposes of this article.
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A new data set dealing with the implemented strategies (certain behaviour) was created.
Several indicators are considered for each strategy that weakened the quality of elections
during the period between the 1998–2013 electoral cycles. Firstly, of course, it is the type
of strategy based on the above-mentioned scheme. Here, certain kinds of behaviour which
follow Schedler’s updated strategies of electoral manipulations are treated as negative strat-
egies. Next, the position of the oender of electoral integrity, i.e. whether it is governmental,
oppositional, non-parliamentary, an administrative body, a president (as a later specica-
tion of category ‘other’) or unknown is taken into account. en it is observed whether the
strategy was successfully executed. What is meant here by ‘successful execution’ is simply
that the strategy was transformed into reality, whether or not there was any resulting real
impact. is variable is tricky, because observing the intentions behind some strategies is al-
most impossible. However, there are also strategies which were not successfully enacted. At
this point, the possible bias towards strategies at the level of rules can be observed, because
one can expect that intentions to inuence rules should be more visible than those focusing
on the game itself. On the other hand, the benet of using this variable is that it provides
a better picture for understanding latent pressures on electoral integrity. Anyway, the text
always dierentiates intended and enacted strategies. When a strategy is not identied as ei-
ther intended or enacted, then it is an enacted strategy under discussion. Last but not least,
the impact of the individual strategy on elections is considered. is impact range includes
no impact (no impact on a particular part of the electoral cycle nor the results), minor im-
pact (small scale problems, usually with minor impact on a particular part of the electoral
cycle, which do not create overall bias in that part of the cycle nor in electoral outcomes),
some impact (causes partial bias in a particular part of the electoral cycle or electoral re-
sults), major impact (causes clear signicant bias in a particular part of the electoral cycle
or in electoral results), and decisive impact (has a decisive inuence on a particular part of
the electoral cycle or it determines electoral results or the consequences of those results).
is scale for assessment makes it easier to distinguish between democratic and non-dem-
ocratic elections. For the non-democratic elections it is characteristic that they do not allow
a change in electoral results (or, in this case, also deny the function of a particular part of
the electoral cycle). erefore, when some strategy is “decisive” in its impact it becomes a
threshold separating democratic from non-democratic elections. Impacts are evaluated on
both levels – meta-game and game. It is also necessary to add that the impact of intended
strategies is estimated based on the theoretical expectations in a given context.
4. Negative Strategies Used in Czech Elections
between 1998 and 2013
In examined period, the Czech Republic was considered to be a fully democratic country
(Freedom House 2016). However, it is possible to observe that certain actors use some strat-
egies which could lead to decreasing electoral integrity. Using the above-mentioned scheme
of negative strategies, it is possible to empirically observe the following on the meta-game
level: non-standard legal exclusion of certain actors; legal restrictions on actors’ cooperation;
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258
legal restrictions on media and money; formal disenfranchisement; unfair rules of the electoral
system; and on the game level: illegal exclusion or inclusion of certain actors; creating or con-
trolling a subsidiary party to take advantage of electoral rules (substitution); repression (of civil
and political liberties); practical media and monetary restrictions; informal disenfranchise-
ment / illegitimate enfranchisement; coercion; corruption of voters; tutelage. ese strategies
have dierent impacts and are used in dierent electoral cycles.
4.1. Types of Negative Strategies and Their Impact
Negative strategies used during the observed period are demonstrated in graph 1. e light
columns count every individual, actively demonstrated, negative strategy while dark col-
umns are for strategies which are counted each time they are present, i.e. even if their eect
is still active even when the strategy is not actively being implemented.
It is evident that actors use a wider variety of negative strategies at the electoral game
level than at the level of rules (5:8). Actively conducted negative strategies are used slightly
more (14:19) at the game level. However, taking into consideration the persistency of these
strategies, those oriented toward electoral rules are more persistent over time (35:22). at
means, if actors change a law in some negative way, this law will remain in future elections
as well. e inuence on the quality of elections is therefore long-term.
Graph 1: Number of individual strategies used between 1998 and 2013 electoral cycles
Source: Author.
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It seems that it is worth it to implement the negative strategies which inuence the laws
governing the media as well as those which impact party nancing, because the eects of
these strategies are the longest. Among these practices are both restrictions on advertising
in electronic media (in this case television and radio, not the internet) (1998–2013) and
inequalities in party nancing (1998) (see Jarabinský 2015: 351–358).
While the goal of restricting advertisement is, in general, to create level playing eld for
electoral competitors5, the nancial inequalities usually advantage bigger parties. On the
other hand, additional nances for parties gained by new subsidies from other elections
(2002–2013) increase the negative impact of party nancing on the fairness of elections
(Outlý undated). e dark side of campaign nancing is the lack of transparency; this is
so ensured by the law that it seems impossible to get any detailed information, except in
the case when a party is willing to provide it. e big discrepancy between the light and
dark columns for legal restrictions on media and money depicts the fact that most of those
negative strategies were used earlier (in the 1998 and 2002 electoral cycles) and therefore
are persistent for a longer time. is is mainly due to party nancing. When the law favours
bigger parties by giving them extra money, aer the change of the government those ‘new
big parties’ prot from this law as well and, therefore, do not have incentives to change it.
e control over the media is a similar story for the entire observed period. Critics of
media regulatory bodies exist mostly outside of the parliament (such as non-parliamenta-
ry parties, non-government organizations, or experts), because parties represented in the
Chamber of Deputies control the composition of those bodies. is situation does not seem
to change. is alone does not implicitly mean that the media are biased by the govern-
mental control, but they may be prone to bias and only practical observations can reveal
whether this is true or not.
Other negative strategies are also persistent. Among them are unfair rules of the elec-
toral system which were modied mainly during the so-called ‘opposition agreement’ era
between 1998–2002, when the two biggest parties6 agreed to institutional changes which
were expected to favour both of them to the detriment of smaller parties (see Koudelka
2000: 92–93). Because some of those electoral provisions were later partly dismissed by the
Constitutional Court, parties needed to quickly react to this situation in the light of ongoing
elections. e result of all this was that some problematic provisions were added (and some
old provisions were carried over) to the law (see Jarabinský 2015: 360–362). As the two ad-
ditional columns in graph 2 illustrate, those negative strategies which successfully changed
the law had less impact than the intended strategies.7 On the whole, the inability of political
elites to react adequately caused smaller scale problems but the result was still inuenced
by a negative behaviour.
Attempts to modify the electoral threshold are also connected with the period of ‘oppo-
sition agreement’ (see Charvát 2013: 120–125). One of those attempts was successful and
has remained constant since then; this complicates the cooperation of smaller parties. It is
caused by the threshold’s additive nature, when one party needs to get 5% of votes to pass
scrutiny, while a coalition of parties needs to reach 10%, or 15% of votes (for two, or three
and more parties, respectively). is oers very limited incentives for creating coalitions;
this is clearly a calculated move. On the one hand, big parties defended proposed new rules
for mandates allocation with the argument that this mechanism provides incentives for
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260
small parties to concentrate into bigger coalitions or blocks, while, on the other hand, the
application of these thresholds for coalitions would endanger smaller parties’ presence in
the Chamber of Deputies if they fail to reach the high threshold.
e higher value of persistent formal disenfranchisement is connected to the constantly
problematical voting from abroad which has only been possible since 2002 (OSCE 2002:6).
e organizational capacity is not adequate however, and the law only provides the op-
portunity to vote in person at ocially designated locations, which are usually not easily
accessible. is is also evident from the relatively low numbers of votes from abroad (see
Volby.cz 2016).
To sum up the negative strategies found at the meta-game level: the persistency of the
negative strategies can be primarily traced back to the era of the ‘opposition agreement
during ČSSD’s governance, when it was supported by the biggest opposition party, the ODS.
Actors’ negative behaviour from this era can be mainly considered to be intentional. Some
negative practices were also caused by inabilities to oer better solutions and by political
decisions which preferred some solutions over others, usually with small negative eects.
Some negative strategies were also used prior to the observed era but remained persistent.
However, most of the actively implemented negative strategies used aer the 2002 elections
to try to inuence the law were rather unsuccessful. is means that the roots of electoral
problems caused by the law are found in the era between the 1998 and 2002 elections, i.e.
the era with the most stable government of the observed period. In this sense, an unthreat-
ened government can be dangerous for the political system itself, because it can set biased
electoral competition rules in order to gain advantage. In this case, however, political deals
were made mainly between the governmental ČSSD and the oppositional ODS, which sup-
ported the government. is means that newly formulated laws had to be in compliance
with both parties’ goals; this complicated negotiations on some bills, with respect to the
context at that time.
In general, problems at the game level can, in some societies, trigger protests and other
actions against elections or their results simply because it is the ‘visible’ part of elections.
ese problems are not expected to be common in well-established democracies. ese
problems are also rather irrelevant in the Czech elections in general, albeit with one ex-
ception. Practical media and monetary restrictions are most oen used to gain illegitimate
advantage in elections. is indicator is primarily understood as activities such as securing
extra time in the media, placing more advertisements than are allowed, using restricted
resources to conduct a campaign, or using lies or questionable content to discredit an op-
ponent. ese practices are among those with the biggest impact on shaping voters’ minds
(see graph 2). is is an area which is paradoxically foremost in the public eye, but people
oen do not consider it to be a problem. It helps to form voters’ preferences and there-
fore decreases the need for other more obvious electoral aws. e media landscape is not
biased simply by any kind of negative act but, as graph 2 shows, in the Czech landscape
these practices have had some impact. is can be seen in the 1998 elections, when parties
agreed not to use billboard campaigns, yet they did not follow this ‘gentleman’s agreement’
and this gave a quite substantial (evident) advantage to those who did not participate or
who broke the rule. Attempts to inuence parties’ advertising opportunities were evident
in given period as well; various parties at the Ministry of Finance refused to pay state sub-
261261
ARTICLES
sidies to some parties which had qualied for additional nancing in the previous elections
(Škraňková, Kopecký 2006; Novinky.cz 2006). Similarly, publishing information from the
so-called ‘Kubice report8 in all of the major media only a few days before the 2006 elections
caused a great deal of controversy, with probable eects on the election results.9 ese prac-
tices indicate that party(ies)/individual(s) in power or with access to serious resources are
able to abuse this systemic advantage to disadvantage their opponents in campaigns. On
the other hand, these practices seem more oen to be simply opportunities oered up by
certain situations rather than actively searched out. However, politicians do not hesitate to
utilize these opportunities even when they are amiss.
What these practices have in common is that there is no adequate punishment which
would outweigh the gains resulting from this behaviour. Examples of this are seen in the
lack of any real punishment for violating the ‘gentleman’s agreement’, as well as in the court’s
delayed decision in the Ivan Langer (ODS) and Pavel Severa (KDU-ČSL)10 cases (they were
accused of leaking Kubice’s report), the minimal impact of that decision, and the possible
alternative reading of the law specifying conditions for parties’ subsidies based on their
electoral results. Actors denying their actions seem to be the key to decreasing the intensity
of their punishment.
Interestingly, parties that lack the necessary political resources, but which do hold large
economic resources, have the media advantage. is is the case of the ANO11 party, whose
leader (Andrej Babiš) gained a huge amount of air time in both the public and private media
(in spite of legal restrictions) via his commercial activities (Rada pro rozhlasové a televizní
vysílání 2013). is made him the only visible candidate able to campaign in electronic
media (except the internet) in 2013. He also skewed the media landscape to his advantage
by buying several inuential media outlets, however, the plurality of media has been main-
tained. ese practices open new opportunities for parties, or rather their representatives,
to be more visible in the media through their private business activities. is is not just the
case of non-parliamentary parties (as in Babišs case) but this can be one way to get around
the law.
In the same elections, some parties used transparent accounts (contrary to previous
practice), however, much information about campaign nancing was still inaccessible. Po-
litical party and campaign nancing very slowly improved over time, in that parties slowly
provided more information, however, the control mechanisms are still weak and while the
nancial transparency is improving, non-transparent black holes where money can be di-
rected to still remain.
Another important negative strategy is tutelage, which was used only once but which
possibly had the greatest impact. is unexpected strategy in a democratic regime is con-
nected to the 2010 electoral cycle and President Zemans appointment of a government
which did not have enough support in the Chamber of deputies. is government was not
even the result of any negotiations. Rusnok’s government, which stayed in power without
parliamentary support for more than 6 months, made a number of decisions (Brunclík
2016: 20). is act is inconceivable in a parliamentary regime in which the government
should be created and controlled by the parliament, because it restricts MPs’ ability to con-
trol government. e characteristics of this strategy is, however, similar to previous cas-
es: a special instance of a governmental crisis together with an alternative reading12 of the
POLITOLOGICK Ý ČASOPIS / CZECH JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE 3/2017
262
Constitution provided the president this opportunity and he faced no real punishment for
this action because he had already taken oce, and the next presidential elections were in
the distant future.
Graph 1 also illustrates that most kinds of negative strategies had been used in very
limited number. ese are oen connected to smaller (non-parliamentary) parties which
attempt to circumvent laws. For example, they successfully avoided following the rules for
registering party-lists, just as Party AZS13 did back in 2002 when some of their lists were
registered without paying the necessary fees (illegal exclusion or inclusion of certain actors),
or when the DS14 party, aer its dissolution in 2010, used another party, DSSS15, which was
chaired by the mother of the chair of the DS for candidacy of DS’s candidates (creating or
controlling a subsidiary party to take advantage of electoral rules (substitution)). is made
the law which prevents extremist parties from elections ineective. ere were also cases of
repression (of civil and political liberties) when two members of ČSSD (in 2006) were phys-
ically attacked, but it did not aect their candidacy. Similarly, there were security issues at
some of ČSSD’s campaign meetings in 2010 in which the party suered some attacks. ese
stopped aer ČSSD changed its campaign strategy. In 1998, the electoral administration
Graph 2: Impact of individual strategies used between the 1998 and 2013 electoral cycles
Source: Author.
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ARTICLES
was the source of another problem. Public ocers disenfranchised some (mainly Roma)
people through their (sometimes intentional) misconduct during the process of granting
Czech citizenship aer Czechoslovakias separation (Romové v České republice 2000). In
both 2002 and 2006, some attempts to inuence electoral results by distributing incomplete
voting ballot envelopes to voters were also reported, as was (never clearly proved) very
small scale vote buying.
e average impact of the later strategies is minor, as graph 2 demonstrates. is makes
these activities rather insignicant. ey are oen caused by smaller non-parliamentary
parties, the administration or unknown individuals. Some of the behaviours are closely
connected to the context (especially quality of the law), therefore only some of them should
be considered to be a source of inspiration for the behaviour of politicians in the future. On
the other hand, the above-mentioned problems tended to be one-o events/practices and
they were not repeated.
To sum up the impact of the negative strategies (graph 2) between the two levels of com-
petition, it is evident that those negative strategies actively conducted on the meta-game
level have a greater impact compared to the game level (2.92:2.15). is is also true of the
impacts seen on both levels for the negative strategies, including those constantly present
which are counted for all electoral cycles (2.83:2.22).
4.2. Trends in Using Negative Strategies
Graphs 3 and 4 provide insight into the number16 and average impact of negative strategies.
eir number is not very high and it is pretty clear that successfully executed (not just
intended) negative strategies are present at smaller scales in some electoral cycles. It is ob-
vious from graph 3 that the number of negative strategies has decreased since 2002, while
their impact has increased. Comparing this with successfully executed negative strategies
(graph 4), it is clear that in 2002 there was the highest number (3) of unsuccessful negative
strategies; this slightly moves the trend in the amount of these strategies, but not in their
average impact.
e ecacy17 of these negative strategies is slightly higher among those successfully ex-
ecuted than those also counted as intended strategies (graph 5). e decrease in ecacy
between 1998 and 2002 is caused by the use of a wider range of negative strategies with no
real impact on the results. Since then, however, the ecacy of intended negative strategies
has systematically increased. is means that electoral stakeholders attempt to invest in
negative strategies with greater impacts on electoral results rather than in multiple, less ef-
fective strategies and they cease doing things with no real impact. e slight decrease in the
successful negative strategies in 2006, however, depicts the fact that these harsh strategies
can sometimes fail in their implementation.
In general, individual types of strategies are not constant over time (graph 6). In fact,
only three negative strategies connected to the level of rules are present during whole ob-
served period. ese are legal and practical media and monetary restrictions, and formal
disenfranchisement, which are characterized by persistent problems caused by changes in
problematic laws in 2002 which, however, did not necessarily improve their quality and
POLITOLOGICK Ý ČASOPIS / CZECH JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE 3/2017
264
Graph 3: Number of attempted and successful strategies and their average impact
between 1998 and 2013
Source: Author.
Graph 4: Number of successful strategies and their average impact between 1998 and 2013
Source: Author.
therefore led to other problems. Since 2002, the strategies of legal restrictions on actors’ coop-
eration and unfair rules of the electoral system have always been present. e rest of negative
strategies are used rather episodically and they do not appear more than in two electoral
cycles. is implies that once negative strategies are applied on the meta-game level, they
almost always (4 out of 5 cases) cause long-term problems. On the other hand, these strat-
egies, at the game level, seem to be weaker (political parties or candidates perhaps do not
dare to use fully negative strategies) in their impact and this could be one of the reasons why
actors do not continue to use them in the longer-term (except practical media and monetary
restrictions).
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Graph 5: Comparison of the ecacy of all strategies and those successfully executed
between 1998 and 2013
Source: Author.
Graph 6: Presence of negative strategies in particular electoral cycles from 1998 to 2013
Source: Author.
POLITOLOGICK Ý ČASOPIS / CZECH JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE 3/2017
266
4.3. Perpetrators
Scholars usually expect that the government is the main perpetrator of electoral fraud, be-
cause of its access to resources. On the contrary, the opposition and other actors are per-
ceived to be those who pursue their rights in somehow oppressive or biased conditions,
which should therefore make the competition fairer. In the Czech Republic, the number of
negative strategies used is not very high. e 1998 elections correspond to the above-men-
tioned expectation, although even there it is possible to observe some negative strategies
made by non-governmental rather than governmental actors. Since 2002, the trend has
slightly changed. Non-governmental actors are more involved in wrongdoings and they
produce a bigger share of negative strategies than governmental parties (graph 7). On the
other hand, negative strategies made by governmental parties are more concentrated among
a smaller number of actors.
e best possible outcome of this text would be, of course, no use of negative strategies.
However, this is a rather unachievable goal. When negative strategies are present, it should
be in an environment which allows all actors to use these strategies. eir negative conse-
quences could therefore balance, to a certain extent, possible bias.
In this case, the results indicate that Czech democracy allows electoral stakeholders to
use strategies which negatively inuence the quality of elections, and therefore partially the
quality of democracy. Since 2002, governmental actors do not hold a monopoly on nega-
tively inuencing electoral integrity as is typical instead in hybrid or authoritarian regimes.
at means there is no one-sided bias, which can be considered as a good thing.
Graph 7: Shares of negative strategies used by individual actors between 1998 and 2013
Source: Author.
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In the context of the above-mentioned ndings it is also necessary to stress actors’ une-
ven impact on electoral integrity (graph 8). It is possible to see that the impact of intended
negative strategies in which opposition parties were involved surpass the gures of gov-
ernmental parties in three out of ve electoral cycles. e impact of these strategies (since
2010) is even higher for non-parliamentary parties in last two elections. is indicates that
since 2002 (with the exception of 2006), non-governmental actors who are standing for
election implement negative strategies which have greater impact more oen than gov-
ernmental actors do. e order of impacts of strategies of government, opposition, and
non-parliamentary actors in the last two elections (see graph 8) seems to suggest that the
further the actor is from public resources the stronger strategies he/she/it uses. is trend is
quite surprising because the opposite is to be expected. It actually means that the poor start-
ing position of an actor can cause his/her/its more daring behaviour as he/she/it is involved
in stronger negative strategies. e increasing impact of negative strategies depicted earlier
in graphs 3 and 4 is therefore caused mainly by non-governmental actors.
Graph 8: Impact of certain actors on electoral integrity between 1998 and 2013
Source: Author.
5. Conclusion
is study described how Czech electoral stakeholders behave in rst-order elections with
respect to their ability to decrease electoral integrity. Results show some expected phenom-
ena, such as the use of negative strategies in a democratic regime, which are mainly linked
to the pre-election day period with a focus on media at both the meta-game and game
levels. It is also very clear that meta-game level strategies are more persistent over time,
POLITOLOGICK Ý ČASOPIS / CZECH JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE 3/2017
268
which indicates the unwillingness of actors to rectify the consequences of previously used
negative strategies. In addition to the persistent negative eects, there are also the high costs
of voting from abroad which exclude many potential voters from voting. On the other hand,
many of the observed negative strategies are used only occasionally, and these strategies are
connected mainly to the game level.
is discrepancy between the two levels is characterized also by the fact that negative
strategies used on the level of game are generally weaker in their impact than those strate-
gies used with the aim to inuence electoral rules. is could be the reason for the episodic
use of strategies on the game level perhaps because potential costs for ‘too daring’ manip-
ulations could be too high and therefore these strategies seem rather ineective. However,
other explanations are also possible, such as MPs’ legislative immunity, the possibility of
spreading the responsibility for certain law in the context of coalition governments, lower
costs for such behaviour than for any kind of mobilization, etc. is is however out of the
scope of this analysis.
What is more important is the fact that denying committing negative strategies on the
level of the game seems to be expedient for perpetrators; it allows them to minimize the
potential costs of a wrongdoing. is way of dealing with accusations is more dangerous
lately, as ‘post-truth’ politics has come to characterize the new culture in the political world.
e strategies at the level of the game are, in the Czech case, rather reactive to the actual
contextual situation, while those negative strategies focusing on the electoral rules are more
prepared and elaborated. is implies, in general, a need for a more elaborated legal frame-
work which does not count on good political culture, because in practice various unex-
pected incentives arise and electoral stakeholders instinctively use these situations to their
favour, even when they behave inappropriately, which they deny or justify while referring
to problematic provisions of the law.
e ecacy of negative strategies is also interesting, because it increases over time and
the ecacy of successfully executed negative strategies is slightly higher than when it is also
counted for unexecuted strategies with potential impact. In this case, the former means that
electoral stakeholders leave aside strategies with no real impact while they stick to using
more eective negative strategies. e latter is rather caused by the fact that unsuccessful
negative strategies were present in situations with a greater number of negative strategies
with milder eects.
e behaviour of non-governmental actors standing for election is also interesting. ey
seem to be more willing to use harsher versions of certain strategies than their governmen-
tal counterparts (or than they themselves would, if they were in government). In fact, this
is a quite unexpected result, because this trend ows away from access to public resources.
On the other hand, overall bias towards one kind of actor is not evident, because the use of
negative strategies among electoral stakeholders balances this disproportionality to a cer-
tain extent.
It is necessary to add that the impact of strategies of actors in government and op-
position is more or less the same during the observed period. Other actors are in this
sense more unpredictable, which could make them a threat to the system and which could
be dealt with by imposing some clearer rules or ethical standards on (mainly) political
actors.
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All of this proves that the stagnating (although high) quality of Czech elections (Jara-
binský 2015) in recent years faces internal pressures from a whole range of actors, some
of whom may be a potential threat in the future, especially when some kinds of behaviour
in society or controlling institutions becomes accepted. e time frame of this work goes,
however, beyond the scope of the Jarabinský’s (2015) analysis because situations which hap-
pened a long time aer the announcement of election results are also observed. It seems that
the biggest threats for recent Czech democratic elections come from those unpredictable
actors with big funds or inuential strategic positions in the system. e threats of those
actors could increase if they become successful and if they stick to using the same types of
negative strategies.
On the other hand, it is necessary to keep in mind that the results do not say as much
about the quality of the Czech elections as about the behaviour of electoral stakeholders.
is analysis provides a picture of actors’ behaviour and not the overall picture of electoral
integrity, even though they are interconnected.
Footnotes:
1. Komunistická strana Čech a Moravy.
2. See for example Simpser (2013), who argues that electoral manipulation can inuence other actors
and future competitions.
3. E.g. the overlap between redistributive institutions (practices) of electoral governance as dened by
Schedler (2013: 97) which covers most technical aspects of other strategies, with formal (informal)
disenfranchisement, unfairness, fragmentation of opposition, etc. (see Schedler 2013: 84).
4. Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
5. However, the strategy is negative because it restricts another democratic principle – freedom.
6. ČSSD, as the only member of the minority government, and ODS, as the biggest opposition party.
7. ese additional columns are used when an average impact of successfully implemented strategies
diers from that counted for both successful and unsuccessful strategies.
8. is was a secret police report which could potentially disadvantage the ČSSD party in elections
based on unconrmed circumstantial police evidence; this played a big role in the electoral campaign
right before an election day.
9. Right before the elections, this report was thought to negatively aect the ČSSD, but some experts
later postulated that this case could also have had a positive eect on the party (Mlejnek 2010).
10. ODS – Občanská demokratická strana was the main opposition party, KDU-ČSL – Křesťanská a
demokratická unie – československá strana lidová was a smaller party in the coalition government.
Langer and Severa were members of the chamber’s Committee for defence and security.
11. Akce nespokojených občanů.
12. e Constitutional provision that the President ‘appoints and recalls the Prime Minister and other
members of the government’ (Art. 62 of the Constitution of the Czech Republic) is based on the
assumption that the President does so with respect to electoral results.
13. Akce za zrušení Senátu a proti vytunelování důchodových fondů.
14. Dělnická strana.
15. Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti.
16. Counted as actively conducted strategies. Persistent strategy is counted only when this strategy was
conducted before the observed period.
17. Ecacy is counted as impact of negative strategies divided by their number.
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270
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Appendix: Methodology for the Description of Negative
Strategies of Actors in Elections to the Chamber
of Deputies intheCzech Republic
Sources:
ere are 5 main data sources: monitoring reports (OSCE, USDoS); laws connected to elec-
tions or electoral competition; judiciary complaints or decisions (depending on availabil-
ity) – these are the highest level of decision making, i.e. the Constitutional Court and the
Supreme Administrative Court; secondary analyses of certain parts of electoral cycles (used
in cases where other data sources are unavailable or missing and in disputable situations to
deepen the knowledge of the case); and party manifestos of main political parties (success-
ful in given elections). ese sources were examined properly to get an overall picture of the
Czech elections to the Chamber of Deputies. ey provide long-term election monitoring
data to reach many aspects of elections. ey also provide detailed legal framework for
elections, which is extended by the data initially from people and electoral stakeholders and
which can raise complaints about elections (in given legal framework). Mainly secondary
analyses provide an insight into situations where some measure or action could provide
other results than those intended. All of these aspects are, however, assessed with respect to
a normative democratic approach towards electoral integrity.
e coding process had several stages. Firstly, there were 5 basic data sources (as speci-
ed above). is means that one data source (e.g. election monitoring report) was examined
and during that examination other sources could be examined (e.g. laws, secondary analy-
ses, etc.) based on the information from that primary source (i.e. monitoring report). Aer
that, the main electoral laws were examined in a similar fashion, etc. is reduced the de-
pendence on statements from one information source and increased precision in assessing
whether certain behaviour is (or could be) in compliance with a particular negative strategy
or not. But the process of assessing the impact of this strategy on electoral results or bias in a
certain part of the electoral cycle is even more important. As described, the knowledge from
the above-mentioned main sources was enriched by each other as well as by other sources,
such as the media, parliamentary voting records, and expert opinions.
Coding:
Before the explanation of coding and based on the above mentioned, it is necessary to stress
that one’s behaviour/event is not necessarily coded as a piece of information in a docu-
ment, but rather as a conglomeration of pieces of evidence connected to certain behaviour.
erefore, this is not a quantitative content analysis, but rather a qualitative one. e unit
of analysis is therefore single strategy, however, for more precise assessment it is sometimes
necessary to use more data sources.
Based on the following, this is rather qualitative research and therefore the validity of
results is higher due to the use of more data sources, especially for, let’s say, disputable situ-
ations. e reliability is here rather small compared to quantitative studies, because the only
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check here was made by a sort of intra-coder reliability. e coding was made irregularly
over a longer period of time (approximately 1.5 years). However, the sequence of coding
was made with respect to the time of elections, i.e. the 1998 elections were coded rst, then
2002, etc. e time gap between those elections and the scale of the research made it possi-
ble to check whether the coding of the same or similar situations in later elections remained
the same as in the previous ones. In this sense, the only problem here appeared during the
rst switch from the 1998 to the 2002 electoral cycle when evaluating the impact of a few
strategies. en, it was necessary to create more precise denitions of the values added to
the variable ‘impact’ (that lead to formulations which allow for the assessment of the wors-
ening of impacts, whether on a certain part of the electoral cycle or on electoral results).
With the introduction of these new denitions, these problems are no longer relevant.
Each of the above-mentioned sources was coded independently by one coder to corre-
spond with Schedler’s updated schema which distinguishes negative electoral strategies on
two levels. Firstly, these are strategies aiming to inuence electoral rules: reserved positions,
reserved domains, non-standard legal exclusion of certain actors, legal restrictions on ac-
tors’ cooperation, repression (of civil or political liberties) through legal discrimination, le-
gal restrictions on media and money, formal disenfranchisement, open voting, unfair rules
of the electoral system. Secondly, there are another set of strategies by which actors attempt
to inuence the competition and elections inside the given legal framework: illegal exclu-
sion or inclusion of certain actors, informal fragmentation of the opposition (corruption,
intimidation), creating or controlling a subsidiary party to take advantage of electoral rules
(substitution), repression (of civil and political liberties), practical media and monetary re-
strictions, informal disenfranchisement/illegitimate enfranchisement, coercion, corruption
of voters, unfair counting, tabulation, reporting of results, tutelage, reversion. Denitions of
these strategies are in table 1 in the text.
e instigator of each strategy was also coded. All observed or subsequently identi-
ed oenders were rst coded as parties or individuals that were considered to be party
representatives. is made party aliation the rst step in coding this variable, while in
second step this party (or parties) was (were) coded with respect to the given position in
the context, i.e.: government (parties or individuals involved in the government), opposi-
tion (parliamentary parties – those in an elected body – which are not in the government),
non-parliamentary party (which is not part of the elected body), administrative body (as a
part of public administration or body which ensures the running of elections or a specic
part of an election), and the category ‘other’. is category was later developed into the
categories ‘president’ and ‘unknown. It is necessary to add that more than one perpetrator
can be present in one strategy (e.g. re-allocation of free air time in media from one party
(usually non-parliament) to another (usually parliamentary or governmental)).
e year of elections was coded with respect to the electoral cycle connected to the given
election year. at means that events preceding given elections could happen a long time
before the election year and also events connected to election results and their aermath
could happen aer the announcement of election results. However, the year of the election
day was coded.
Coding of execution (success) of a given strategy has two possible options: yes or no.‘Yes’
stands for those events/actions/behaviour which were enacted. ‘No’ stands for those events/
POLITOLOGICK Ý ČASOPIS / CZECH JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE 3/2017
274
actions/behaviour which were supposed to happen but which were not successfully enacted
(e.g. failed attempt to change electoral law). Success here simply means that something hap-
pened, with no regard to whether it had any impact or not.
Impact of given strategies is considered with respect to their inuence on the given part
of electoral cycle or on electoral results. ese parts of the electoral cycle are dened by Sa-
rah Birch’s (2011) categories of democratic elections: right to vote, opportunity to vote, right
to stand for election, equal information, free expression of preferences, accurate counting,
neutral vote-to-seat conversion, and eective dispute adjudication; and one additional cat-
egory from Schedler’s (2002: 39, 41) scheme: irreversibility of election results. Coding is
made on a 5-point scale: 1 – none (no impact on a particular part of the electoral cycle
nor on the results); 2 – minor (small scale problems, usually with minor impact on a par-
ticular part of the electoral cycle which do not create overall bias in that part of cycle nor
in the electoral outcomes); 3 – some ((potential) causes of partial bias in a particular part
of the electoral cycle or the electoral results); 4 – major (causes clear signicant bias in a
particular part of the electoral cycle or in the electoral results); 5 – decisive (decisive inu-
ence on a particular part of the electoral cycle or it determines the electoral results or their
consequences). No matter whether a particular part of the elections or their results were
inuenced, the worse of those assessments (i.e. the higher number) of impacts was coded.
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