Beyond Free and Fair Elections: Monitoring Elections and Building Democracy draws on worldwide experience since the mid-1980s to evaluate international election monitoring and domestic monitoring, and their contributions to democracy promotion and democratic change. In this book, Eric Bjornlund provides an overview of what election monitoring is, where it comes from, and how it is currently conducted, and he educes general lessons for democracy promotion. Bjornlund reports on actual practice, including case studies of particular election monitoring efforts and the author’s own experience in the field, and on a few previous efforts to synthesize guidelines and lessons learned.

Case studies include Cambodia, Zimbabwe, the Philippines, and Indonesia, with the last especially providing an opportunity to show how domestic monitors can be supported by international monitors, funders, and advisers. Björnlund also devotes a chapter to the influential election monitoring work of former president Jimmy Carter.

The author criticizes the tendency to view elections and election monitoring narrowly rather than as part of broader strategies to build democracy. He makes practical recommendations about how election monitoring should evolve in the future if it is to continue to contribute to genuine democratization.

Eric Bjornlund is a founder and principal of Democracy International, which evaluates and assists democracy and governance programs worldwide. He has also been associate director and Asia director of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. He was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 2000–2001.


List of Tables

Lee H. Hamilton

List of Acronyms and Abbreviations

Part I. Democracy Promotion, Elections, and Election Monitoring
1. The Emergence of Election Monitoring
2. The Expansion of Democracy and Democracy Promotion
3. Elections and Election Monitoring

Part II. International Election Monitoring
4. From Nongovernmental to Intergovernmental Organizations: Actors in International Election Monitoring
5. Jimmy Carter and the Popularization of International Election Observation
6. Toward “Free and Fair” Elections?
7. The Scope and Methodology of International Election Observation
8. Cambodia: Challenges to International Election Observation
9. Host-Government Manipulation of Observers: Elections in Zimbabwe

Part III. Domestic Election Monitoring
10. The Origins of Domestic Election Monitoring: NAMFREL and Its Successors
11. Domestic Election Monitoring as an End and a Means
12. Foreign Support for Domestic Election Monitoring in Indonesia: Missed Opportunities and Unintended Consequences
13. Verifying the Vote Count: Quick Counts, Parallel Tabulations, and Exit Polls in Macedonia and Indonesia

Part IV. Toward More Meaningful International Election Monitoring
14. Toward More Meaningful International Election Monitoring

Appendix: Elections and Election Monitoring in Newly Democratic and Semiauthoritarian Countries


“Thorough and richly documented…. Contains the right mix of facts and statistics…. Those interested in election monitoring will find it indispensable.”—Thomas G. Walker, Law and Politics Book Review

“Eric Bjornlund combines solid research and extensive knowledge with vast practical experience (including insightful vignettes from several case studies) to produce a first rate book on the history and evolution of election observation. Given the dearth of written material that reflects the experience and lessons learned of the last 15 years of democracy promotion, Bjornlund has made a major contribution to the scholarly and policy work on an important subject. This book is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the complexities, challenges, and achievements of programs and people working to improve elections around the world.”—Thomas Carothers, Vice President for Studies and Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

“Eric Bjornlund has written a book that has been much needed for years—a comprehensive, incisive account of the critically important field of election monitoring in new democracies. Moreover he has produced a masterful, field-defining work, infused with a probing, judicious spirit of constructive criticism, grounded in a wide range of practical cases, and packed with insights about how to do better.”—Horacio Boneo, former Director, United National Electoral Assistance Division

“An outstanding book in a important field. On the basis of an extensive field experience, Björnlund combines insightful conceptual analysis with detailed descriptions of relevant cases. A recommended reading for those involved in electoral observation.”—Jennifer Windsor, Executive Director of Freedom House and former Director, Democracy and Governance Office, U.S. Agency for International Development