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23rd August 2018 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm


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SPEAKERS: Dr Brian Klaas and Professor Nic Cheeseman, co-authors, How to Rig an Election

Contrary to what is commonly believed, authoritarian leaders who agree to hold elections are generally able to remain in power longer than autocrats who refuse to allow the populace to vote.

Calling upon first-hand experiences from elections in Brazil, India, Nigeria, Russia, and the United States, Dr Klaas and Professor Cheeseman will expose the limitations of national elections as a means of promoting democratisation, revealing the six essential strategies that dictators use to undermine the electoral process in order to guarantee victory for themselves.

The Henry Jackson Society is proud to invite you to an event with Dr Brian Klaas and Professor Nic Cheeseman who will draw on their experiences as election watchers to analyse the pseudo-democratic methods deployed by autocrats as a way to maintain their authority and control.

Signed copies of How to Rig an Election will be on sale after the event. We accept card, cash and contactless methods of payment.

Dr Brian Klaas is a Fellow in Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics and Co-Author of How to Rig an Election. Dr Klaas is a former US campaign adviser and frequent political analyst of US domestic and foreign policy in mainstream media outlets. In 2013, Dr. Klaas published The Despot’s Accomplice. He received his DPhil in Politics from the University of Oxford, an MPhil in Comparative Government from the University of Oxford, and a Bachelor of Arts from Carleton College.

Professor Nic Cheeseman is Professor of Democracy and International Development at the University of Birmingham and Co-Author of How to Rig an Election. As well as being the former editor of the Journal of African Affairs, the #1 ranked journal in Area Studies, Professor Cheeseman is the founding editor of the Oxford Encyclopaedia of African Politics, the Oxford Dictionary of African Politics, and the co-editor of the Handbook of Kenyan Politics. He received his DPhil in Politics from the University of Oxford, an MPhil Politics from the University of Oxford, and a Bachelor of Arts in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.





On the 23rd of August, the Henry Jackson Society had a big pleasure to welcome Dr Brian Klass and Professor Nic Cheeseman, the co-authors of How to Rig an Election. Their most recent book focuses on the problem of the election rigging worldwide and aims to not only explain the good and the bad ways of doing it, but seeks to analyse the problem of the election rigging itself. The guests offered a fantastic presentation of the questions and issues covered in the book, as well as engaged in a lively discussion with the audience about the possible solutions and ways of fighting back widespread practices of the election rigging.


Professor Cheeseman admitted, that their latest book was inspired by disputed Kenya elections in 2007, which were highly criticised and called unfair by the opposition leaders and international experts even before the election results were counted. However, the book covers wider geographies than Sub-Saharan Africa alone and focuses on the countries, which have introduced democracies, but there has never been quality in them. This broad cover perfectly illustrates the paradox which today’s world is facing: there are more elections held than ever before, yet there is a continuous decline of democracy, with more and more countries moving to authoritarianism.


Professor Cheeseman outlined the safety of the leaders and the weakness of institutions, rather than corruption, as the main reasons behind the incumbent’s desperation to remain in power. He then offered a concise and illustrative explanation of ‘Dictator’s toolbox’ – six strategies which incumbents use to stay in their positions. The toolbox include amateur and professional ways of the election rigging, and each of them has a separate chapter dedicated in the book. Professor Cheeseman presented amateur ways, which include non-strategic rigging, violence and repression, shaking the matchbox and stuffing the ballot box. Dr Brian Klaas continued by introducing two options for professional election rigging: strategic rigging and digital frontiers, the latter of which allows dangerous and hardly controllable interventions into local elections by foreign countries.


Dr Klaas painted a rather gloomy picture of future elections. As the incumbents who use these strategies tend not to only get away with it, but are also considered legitimate internationally, the world cannot expect a significant decrease in the election rigging anytime soon. The authors agreed that things will get worse before they get better. There were two reasons behind Professor Cheeseman and Dr Klaas decision to write this book – they got angry, that the world tolerates the leaders who use the election rigging strategies to remain in power, and they wanted to offer solutions of how these practices could be fought back. They highlighted the importance of taking the lessons from the book and acting accordingly, as well as the importance of recognising the limitations of the election observation. The event concluded with a lively discussion between the authors and the audience.


The Henry Jackson Society was delighted to host Professor Cheeseman and Dr Klaas.


23rd August 2018
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Event Tags:


Millbank Tower
21-24 Millbank
Westminster, SW1P 4RS United Kingdom
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Dr Brian Klaas and Prof Nic Cheeseman, co-authors, How to Rig an Election
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