The Vanishing Lists: Collecting and Matching Parliamentary Candidate Data in Romania
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Publisher:The Ohio State University Libraries in partnership with IFiS Publishers
Citation:Ask: Research and Methods. Volume 25, Issue 1 (2016), pp. 61-76
Publishing and preserving detailed information about candidates running for public offi ce is a form of accountability and a precondition for the production of reliable academic knowledge about electoral and partisan politics. This article offers a guide to researchers interested in collecting candidate data in environments where both politicians who design and civil servants who administer the electoral process have a limited understanding of the relevance of such data and where their bureaucratic capacity is underdeveloped. It does so by focusing on the case of Romania, where no complete registry of candidatures at parliamentary elections exists and key information about the candidates running in the 1990–2000 elections seems to have been lost forever. We employ process tracing and an in-depth analysis of legal documents to reveal the causes of this outcome. The article describes how a team of researchers devised and implemented several research strategies to cope with scarce data, the various types of logistical or methodological obstacles encountered and the solutions used in order to recover data and build a new, matched dataset of Romanian parliamentary candidates.
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