Multicriteria Model to Support Governance in Electoral Institutions

Multicriteria Model to Support Governance in Electoral Institutions

Sérgio Manoel Martins (University of the South of Santa Catarina (UNISUL), Brazil), Leonardo Ensslin (University of the South of Santa Catarina (UNISUL), Brazil), Ademar Dutra (University of the South of Santa Catarina (UNISUL), Brazil) and Sandra Rolin Ensslin (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC), Brazil)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJSDS.2020070101
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In democracies, power is exercised through political representation and is expressed in periodic elections. In recent decades, the population's heightened commitment to morality and the way public policies have been conducted have provoked demands from society for stricter controls and transparency in the actions of electoral institutions worldwide. In this context, considering the relevance of the performance of these institutions for legitimacy in elections and political stability, this study presents a process to support governance and election legitimacy management. The constructivist multicriteria methodology guided the construction of the model by identifying strategic objectives and highlighting properties associated with critical factors, which allowed for the measurement of performance and the identification of competitive differentials and vulnerabilities. The process of support for governance has the potential to boost performance, increase the credibility of electoral institutions, and increase society's confidence in elections.
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The credibility of the institution responsible for administering the electoral process is one of the factors that influence the perception of the legitimacy of elections in democratic regimes. For this reason, the actions of these institutions are considered a crucial element for transmitting confidence in elections and for stabilizing or consolidating political regimes (Pastor, 1999; IDEA, 2002; Mozaffar & Schedler, 2002; Norris, 2019; Garnett, 2019; James et al., 2019). The research addresses governance in election management bodies, which refer to Electoral Institutions (EIs) provided their institutional, formal, and public nature (Lopez-Pintor, 2000). The study focuses on the performance of EIs institutional functions.

EIs are embedded in a multifaceted and more comprehensive context of electoral governance that is influenced by social, economic, and political variables that may contribute to the perception of the electoral process as democratic or, by implication, partially or totally illegitimate (Mozaffar and Schedler, 2002). The study’s emphasis on performance is essential to understand how effective management of the electoral process contributes to the stability or consolidation of democracies in developed or developing countries (Norris, 2019; Garnett, 2019).

Generally, electoral institutions attract attention and cause disquiet when they occasionally perform poorly (Hall, 2017). EIs negatively affect electoral systems, the main vehicle of representative governance, because they are the fundamental basis of democracy. In this way, equal opportunities for all citizens are no longer ensured, which restricts participation in the electoral process and the possibility of influencing (directly or through representation) state policies.

Indeed, the assessment of public administration performance has been a key concern in many countries, but nowhere is this more crucial for democracies than in the field of electoral administration (Clark, 2014). Weak performance in election administration has the capacity to undermine the legitimacy of the election process as a whole and, potentially, of the elected government (Clark, 2014). Because of this, society has recently been demanding stricter controls and greater transparency in the performance of public institutions, especially from EIs. To meet this demand, entities and external public management monitoring and inspection bodies have often recommended implementing management models guided by principles and good practices of public governance (ANAO, 2003; CIPFA, 2004; IDEA, 2002; IIA, 2009; IFAC, 2013b; TCU, 2014).

However, this research goes beyond the study of performance assessment models aimed to meet legal requirements within the EI, because compliance with standards does not necessarily imply increasing the institution's credibility and confidence in the electoral process (i.e., it does not fully fulfill the purpose of supporting governance to drive progress toward the objectives of the EI). In addition, conventional performance assessment models based on control and compliance rules can mask the potential risk that everything is being done right, while the right things to do are neglected until serious and irreparable damage occurs (Halachmi, 2011). Considering the relevance of these administrative structures to the performance of the electoral process, this research agenda focuses on building an institutional performance assessment model to support the governance and management of legitimacy in elections. The complexity of the organizational context researched reveals the need to understand its specific characteristics. This is important for models that have multiple aspects that need to be evaluated in an integrated manner and from the perspective of the decision-maker, as in the constructivist approach of performance assessment.

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