This introductory chapter discusses the credibility of international institutions and the methods the international community uses to promote good domestic governance. It asks about whether international election monitors improve the quality of elections. Given the logistical and political challenges to their efforts to assess elections, skeptics would have plenty of reasons to question claims that monitoring organizations could actually influence the behavior of politicians in any way. Theoretically, monitors may be able to improve elections through several mechanisms. Yet, as early critics noted, international election monitoring organizations are highly complicated actors and monitoring is a complex undertaking. By injecting themselves into the domestic political process, monitoring organizations raise many questions about their conduct and effects and, by extension, about the motivations of the international actors who sponsor them.
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