Democratization has been a consistent theme of activities at the Mershon Center, through both events or research. The showcase project in this initiative, long supported by the center, is the Comparative National Elections Project, one of the largest and longest-running projects of its kind in the world.
The Comparative National Elections Project (CNEP) is a partnership among scholars who have conducted election surveys across the democratic world. Founded in the late 1980s, it now includes 52 surveys from 1990 to 2017 in 27 different countries on 5 continents, with multiple election surveys in 15 countries. Additional CNEP-based surveys are currently under way.
In addition to including standard demographic and voting behavior variables, the CNEP surveys include items dealing with the following research topics: personal discussion networks, use of the mass media (television, newspapers, radio, and various electronic sites), political information from associations, contacts by political parties, socio-political values, attitudes towards democracy, civic participation, the integrity of the electoral process, and voting behavior in the most recent election.
As the project has evolved over time, new question modules have been added to capture important aspects of elections and democratic support in the new member countries, as well as new developments -- such as the emergence of populism and the electoral impact of "fake news" -- in older democracies as well.
At present, CNEP includes surveys in the following places (and elections):
- Argentina (2007)
- Bulgaria (1996)
- Chile (1993, 2000, 2017)
- China, local elections (2008)
- Colombia (2014)
- Dominican Republic (2010)
- France (2017)
- Germany (1990, 2017)
- Great Britain (1992, 2017)
- Greece (1996, 2004, 2015)
- Hong Kong (1998, 2015)
- Hungary (1998, 2006)
- Indonesia (1999, 2004, 2009, 2014)
- Iran (2016)
- Italy (1996, 2006, 2013)
- Japan (1993)
- Kenya (2013)
- Mexico (2006, 2012)
- Mozambique (2004)
- Portugal (2005, 2015)
- Russia (2016)
- South Africa (2004, 2009, 2014)
- Spain (1993, 2004, 2011, 2015)
- Taiwan (2004, 2016)
- Turkey (2014)
- United States (1992, 2004, 2012, 2016)
- Uruguay (1994, 2004)
The Ohio State University is the host for the CNEP website, and the Mershon Center for International Security Studies has generously sponsored some of these surveys and research conferences focused on them. The website contains each of the original country surveys and questionnaires; two data sets that merge the common questions from the individual-country data sets; and various descriptions of the project and its partners.
The website also lists numerous publications that have resulted from the individual country studies and from cross-national analyses of their data. Two edited books have been produced by CNEP partners: Democracy, Intermediation, and Voting on Four Continents, edited by Richard Gunther, Hans-Jürgen Puhle and José Ramón Montero (Oxford, 2007); and Voting in Old and New Democracies, edited by Richard Gunther, Paul A. Beck, Pedro C. Magalhães and Alejandro Moreno (Routledge, 2016).
Richard Gunther and Paul Beck, both emeritus professors in the Department of Political Science and Mershon Center at Ohio State, are the co-directors of CNEP. Find out more on the project website at https://u.osu.edu/cnep