F. Estevez, E. Magar and G. Rosas, “Partisanship in Non-Partisan Electoral Agencies and Democratic Compliance: Evidence from Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute”, Electoral Studies, 27 (2), 2008.
Scholars argue that electoral management bodies staffed by autonomous, non-partisan experts are best for producing credible and fair elections. We inspect the voting record of Mexico’s Instituto Federal Electoral (IFE), an ostensibly independent bureaucratic agency regarded as extremely successful in organizing clean elections in a political system marred by fraud. We discover that the putative non-partisan experts of “autonomous” IFE behave as “party watchdogs” that represent the interests of their political party sponsors. To validate this party influence hypothesis, we examine roll-call votes cast by members of IFE’s Council-General from 1996 to 2006. Aside from shedding light on IFE’s failure to achieve democratic compliance in 2006, our analysis suggests that election arbiters that embrace partisan strife are quite capable of organizing free, fair, and credible elections in new democracies.