Eight Ways to Make Elections Risk-Free

1. When drawing the lines of the constituencies, remember to integrate as many opposition supporters as possible into your own constituencies and to transfer as many of your own supporters as necessary into the opposition’s strongholds in order to maintain the majority in both constituencies. Add some soldiers if necessary.

2. Make sure that there are no election observers around while you register the votes.

3. Invite the election observers only on short notice in order to prevent them from preparing the observation properly.

4. Discredit the opposition as being either Islamist or Communist, or being employed by a foreign government or all of the above.

5. Create loyal twins for the opposition parties and make the original parties boycott the elections (e.g., by confiscating their property and giving back to them before the elections but only when it is too late for election campaigning); let the international observers meet the loyal opposition in order to create a multi-party election image.

6. Encourage independent candidates to run in the election. The more per constituency the better because they will prevent each other from getting the majority of the votes. The same holds true for organized opposition if you can’t get rid of them otherwise.

7. Make arrangements with other parties. Promise to withdraw your candidates from certain constituencies if they do the same elsewhere. Register additional candidates as independents in time so they can take over from your withdrawn official candidates. Make sure that the other parties don’t find out about the betrayal before the candidate’s registration period is over, otherwise they will do the same.

8. Never give up the monopoly on mass media. But remember that the population might have access to international TV channels. Therefore, it will improve not only your international but also your domestic image if international reports on your elections are positive, i.e., if international organizations declare them free and fair.

How to cite this article:

Iris Glosemeyer "Winner Takes All," Middle East Report 209 (Winter 1998).

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