SEAC hosted this workshop with the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) on Southeast Asian electoral management in comparative perspective. The event involved a roundtable discussion with 5 invited speakers chaired by Prof. John Sidel and covered a range of viewpoints from across the region.
Thailand’s March 2019 elections became intensely controversial after the Election Commission apparently changed the method of assigning party list seats after polling had closed. In May 2019, riots began outside the Indonesian General Electoral Commission after one presidential candidate refused to accept the results. In February 2021, the Burmese military detained Union Election Commission officials after staging a coup, accusing them of complicity in voting fraud. Electoral management is an important, yet often overlooked area of comparative politics. Who organises elections, under what conditions and how has far-reaching implications for electoral outcomes as well as the legitimation of electoral processes and public trust in democratic governance. The proposed workshop will discuss electoral governance in comparative perspective against the backdrop of increasingly contentious recent elections in Southeast Asia. Why have so many recent Southeast Asian elections turned contentious? And what role did electoral management play in that?
A video recording of this event is available here.
Speaker and Chair biographies
Prof. Duncan McCargo is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies at the University of Copenhagen. His books include The Thaksinization of Thailand (co-authored, NIAS 2005) the award-winning Tearing Apart the Land: Islam and Legitimacy in Southern Thailand (Cornell 2008), Fighting for Virtue: Justice and Politics in Thailand (Cornell 2019) and Future Forward: The Rise and Fall of a Thai Political Party (with Anyarat Chattharakul, NIAS 2020).
Dr. Petra Desatova (@PetraDesatova) is a postdoctoral researcher at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies and the Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen. Her research spans the areas of authoritarian legitimation, nation branding and electoral management. Her recent co-authored article ‘Election commissions and non-democratic outcomes: Thailand’s contentious 2019 election’ has been published in the Politics journal.
Dr. Sarah Shair-Rosenfield is Senior Lecturer in Government at the University of Essex. Her work in comparative politics focuses on the causes and consequences of political institutions, particularly electoral reform, decentralization processes, and women’s representation in Asia and Latin America. Her books include Electoral Reform and the Fate of New Democracies: Lessons from the Indonesian case (University of Michigan Press 2019) and Measuring Regional Authority: A Postfunctionalist Theory of Governance (Oxford University Press 2016), and her articles have appeared in journals such as Electoral Studies, Gender & Society, Governance, Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, and Regional & Federal Studies.
Prof. Chin Huat Wong is a professor of governance studies at Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development (JSC), Sunway University. Trained at Essex, he specialises in electoral systems, parliamentary democracy and ethnic politics. In 2018-20, he served as the cluster head on electoral system and constituency delimitation in the Malaysian Government's Electoral Reform Committee (ERC). He has also been active in the civil society-based Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) since 2006.
Dr. Netra Eng is Executive Director of the Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI). Her focus is on development policy research specialising in governance and inclusive society, along with research management and policy influencing. From 2006-2010 and from 2015-18, she was research fellow and the head of the governance unit at the CDRI overseeing the production of original, high quality and locally owned research studies on Cambodia’s political and institutional transformation over the past twenty years. Dr. Eng holds a PhD in political science from Monash University.
Prof. John Sidel is the Sir Patrick Gillam Professor of International and Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Professor Sidel received his BA and MA from Yale University and his PhD from Cornell University. He is the author of Capital, Coercion, and Crime: Bossism in the Philippines (1999), Philippine Politics and Society in the Twentieth Century: Colonial Legacies, Postcolonial Trajectories (2000), Riots, Pogroms, Jihad: Religious Violence in Indonesia (2006), The Islamist Threat in Southeast Asia: A Reassessment (2007), Thinking and Working Politically in Development: Coalitions for Change in the Philippines (2020, with Jaime Faustino) and Republicanism, Communism, Islam: Cosmopolitan Origins of Revolution in Southeast Asia (2021).