Published since 1940 | Vol. 71, No. 3
By Maxwell A. Cameron


Recent political crises in Peru, Brazil, and the United States have exposed a new threat to democracy: electoral denialism, or misleading claims about fraud intended to prevent normal alteration in public office between government and opposition. Electoral denialism weakens the core electoral components of democracy by encouraging a substantial part of the electorate to distrust elections as a mechanism for conflict resolution. A key driver of electoral denialism in the three cases discussed in this research paper is extreme polarization and the radicalization of the right. The moral panic that has led the right to challenge electoral outcomes is, in each case discussed here, a reflection of deeper processes of democratization that have undermined traditional structures of authority based on class, race, gender, and nation. It is therefore vital that the international community actively support free and fair elections and discourage backsliding by supporting robust, inclusive, and participatory citizenship.

About the Author

Maxwell A. Cameron (PhD Berkeley 1989) specializes in comparative politics (Latin America), constitutionalism, democracy, and political ethics. Professor Cameron is jointly appointed with Political Science and the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (SPPGA) at the University of British Columbia.

He is the author or editor of a dozen academic books as well as over sixty peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. His books include Strong Constitutions and Political Institutions and Practical Wisdom and Challenges to Democracy in the Andes.

Cameron has held visiting positions in the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at Notre Dame University (1996) and at Yale University, where he was the Canadian Bicentennial Professor in 2005.

In 2006 he served as political advisor to the OAS Electoral Observation Mission in Peru. He has served as the Director of the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions, in which capacity he co-created the Institute for Future Legislators. In 2011-12 he was a Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence, and in 2013 he was awarded a UBC Killam Teaching Prize.

In 2020 Cameron was named a Distinguished Fellow by the Canadian Association of Latin American and Caribbean Studies. He was the recipient of the 2022 Guillermo O’DonnellDemocracy Award and Lectureship by the Latin American Studies Association for his work on democracy in Latin America.