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Electoral Integrity in Central Europe: an Insight Into the Electoral Rules and Reality

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This dissertation addresses the topic of electoral integrity in three Central European countries, namely Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary in a period from 1998 to the 2014 parliamentary elections. The main goal of the dissertation is to provide a complex analysis of electoral integrity and its evolution in the countries considered to be consolidated democracies after the democratic transition. The secondary goal is a validation of some other available datasets providing data on the quality of elections. The study focuses on the quality of elections, their problems, differences between the quality of elections on the level of the rules and in practice, longitudinal differences, differences in quality of elections between the countries, and finally differences of the findings from other measurements of the phenomenon. The analysis is based on Sarah Birch’s ‘policy accountability’ model of democracy. Observations are made separately on the level of electoral rules (meta-game) and electoral practice (game). A wide spectrum of various data sources is systematically utilized to describe the quality of elections, as complex as possible. The data are processed by qualitative content analysis, and by bivariate statistics in the validation part. Results present a high quality of elections and their positive evolution in cases of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Hungarian elections evinced a relatively high, stable quality until 2010. Nevertheless, we can observe in a given period the relatively standard, in democratic regimes, common issues of both lower and higher significance, but also cases of quite serious problems which are unexpected in democracy. The study further reveals quite essential association between the quality of electoral framework and behaviour of electoral actors in practice. While a high quality of electoral rules is connected with an even higher quality of elections in practice, a low quality of legal framework is reflected in an even lower quality of elections in practice, as the Hungarian 2014 election illustrates. The findings in this dissertation indicate adequate external validity which further supports relevancy of other available quantitative datasets dealing with the quality of elections.
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