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Constitutional formalities, power realities, and comparative anglophone responses to foreign campaign meddling

Constitutional formalities, power realities, and comparative anglophone responses to foreign campaign meddling
Constitutional formalities, power realities, and comparative anglophone responses to foreign campaign meddling
The use of social media by foreign powers to interfere in Western elections synthesizes many novel challenges that face liberal democracy. Through the use of new technology, foreign powers are able to reach across the globe to directly threaten the foundation of democratic decision-making: the attitudes and preferences of voters themselves. Yet foreign meddling only has force because it acts against well-established democratic principles. Freedom to advance and debate diverse political views gives foreign disinformation its point of entry and limits liberal governments from taking overly aggressive countermeasures.

Underlying this tension is the real threat posed by foreign campaign interference: it has the capacity to shift citizens’ preferences, and thus impact democratic self-rule. However, the principles of citizen self-determination, democratic right, and state accountability which set the stage for foreign meddling are themselves a matter of perpetual debate and contestation. The necessary conditions for an electorate to truly have autonomy – particularly in mass representative democracies – elicit the underlying norms and structures of democracy. As the terms of legitimate democracy and fair electoral process are continuously contested and evolving, foreign meddling does not act against a fixed background. An assessment of foreign meddling speaks not only to the nature of the foreign intervention, but the political system upon which it seeks to effect (and which presumably seeks to limit undesirable foreign influence).

Consequently, democratic states’ diverse reactions to foreign meddling provide a dynamic lens into the general characteristics of governance and elections. It is in this spirit that this article analyzes two of the most notorious contemporary instances of foreign meddling – the Russian social media campaigns to influence the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election.
1533-1296
1-22
Eisler, Jacob
a290dee3-c42f-4ede-af9a-5ede55d0135a
Eisler, Jacob
a290dee3-c42f-4ede-af9a-5ede55d0135a

Eisler, Jacob (2020) Constitutional formalities, power realities, and comparative anglophone responses to foreign campaign meddling. Election Law Journal, 0, 1-22. (doi:10.1089/elj.2020.0653).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The use of social media by foreign powers to interfere in Western elections synthesizes many novel challenges that face liberal democracy. Through the use of new technology, foreign powers are able to reach across the globe to directly threaten the foundation of democratic decision-making: the attitudes and preferences of voters themselves. Yet foreign meddling only has force because it acts against well-established democratic principles. Freedom to advance and debate diverse political views gives foreign disinformation its point of entry and limits liberal governments from taking overly aggressive countermeasures.

Underlying this tension is the real threat posed by foreign campaign interference: it has the capacity to shift citizens’ preferences, and thus impact democratic self-rule. However, the principles of citizen self-determination, democratic right, and state accountability which set the stage for foreign meddling are themselves a matter of perpetual debate and contestation. The necessary conditions for an electorate to truly have autonomy – particularly in mass representative democracies – elicit the underlying norms and structures of democracy. As the terms of legitimate democracy and fair electoral process are continuously contested and evolving, foreign meddling does not act against a fixed background. An assessment of foreign meddling speaks not only to the nature of the foreign intervention, but the political system upon which it seeks to effect (and which presumably seeks to limit undesirable foreign influence).

Consequently, democratic states’ diverse reactions to foreign meddling provide a dynamic lens into the general characteristics of governance and elections. It is in this spirit that this article analyzes two of the most notorious contemporary instances of foreign meddling – the Russian social media campaigns to influence the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election.

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Foreign Interference in UK Elections Revision - SMUR - Accepted Manuscript
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 22 August 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 20 November 2020

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 443644
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/443644
ISSN: 1533-1296
PURE UUID: b0736850-0461-486f-9e22-72810c3e03e7
ORCID for Jacob Eisler: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4422-5255

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Date deposited: 07 Sep 2020 16:30
Last modified: 05 Mar 2021 02:55

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Author: Jacob Eisler ORCID iD

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