Media prominence of domestic election monitoring organisations around the world

Stream: Panel 24 - Australian Politics / Media & Politics: Elections, Electoral Systems and Political Behaviour
Date: Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm


Domestic election monitoring groups may play a role as providers of information, altering the cost-benefit rationale of electoral malpractice and manipulation. This paper proposes an agenda-building model of observer influence. As outsiders to the political system, election watch groups aim to garner news media attention for their organisation and the issue of electoral integrity, in order to influence public and policy agendas. Some existing studies locate the driving factors of news attention for interest groups, social movements, and their concerns mainly at the issue-level. Others expect macro-institutional factors such as press freedom and regime type to shape the degree of critical voices on the news agenda. This study argues that organisational characteristics are crucial determinants of news attention to domestic election monitoring initiatives. In particular, it expects that news attention is positively related to the resources a group commands, its level of professionalisation – in particular its ability to ‘clone’ the requirements of journalists - and its organisational history and standing as an established and recognised social actor. The study uses new data from an organisational survey of domestic election monitoring groups in 110 countries, combining this with a measure of news attention towards these initiatives, derived from a Factiva query of newspaper articles. In addition, the study draws on the Perceptions of Electoral Integrity (PEI) expert survey to monitor issue-salience, restrictions to domestic monitors, and the gatekeeping role of the media.


Max Grömping (Presenter), University of Sydey
Max Grömping is a PhD candidate in Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, and research assistant with the Electoral Integrity Project based at Sydney and Harvard. His doctoral thesis examines the drivers of media attention to domestic election monitoring organisations globally. He is interested in electoral integrity and comparative democratisation, agenda-setting in hybrid media systems, and crowdsourced political participation. A co-publisher of the ‘Perceptions of Electoral Integrity’ (PEI) dataset, Max also helped develop the ‘Secure and Fair Elections’ (SAFE) curriculum for International IDEA and UNDP. He previously lectured at the Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University, Bangkok.