About the Comparative National Elections Project

The Comparative National Elections Project (CNEP) is a partnership among scholars who have conducted election surveys on five continents. Founded in the late 1980s, it now includes 63 surveys from 1990 to 2021 in 30 different countries, with multiple election surveys in 16 countries. Additional CNEP-based surveys are currently under way, including in Germany and Chile.

CNEP logo

The geographical scope and theoretical concerns of the CNEP have substantially evolved over the past three decades, with essential items from earlier research foci retained in the common core questionnaire and merged dataset, creating time-series that for some countries stretch back over more than three decades.  With roots than can be traced back to the very founding of modern electoral studies (by Paul Lazarsfeld et al.), its original research concerns focused on political intermediation processes (through personal discussion networks, the mass media, voluntary associations, and contacts with political parties) in four established democracies.

Addition to the project of several “Third Wave” democracies in CNEP II (1993-2003) were accompanied by an expansion beyond the core information-intermediation paradigm to explore in detail key aspects of democratic consolidation processes and attitudes relevant to democratic participation.  CNEP II further adapted the initial questionnaire to suit the research concerns associated with the study of new democracies by adding items measuring socio-political value orientations and other social cleavages that have commonly served as objects of political conflict and vehicles for electoral mobilization in many political systems.

Incorporation into the project of African, East Asian and Latin American democracies in CNEP III (2004-2009) led to a further broadening of the scope of our surveys.  Among other things, it added to the core questionnaire items tapping into differing citizen understandings of the meaning of democracy and assessments of the quality of democratic elections.

With the addition to the project of a number of non-democratic, illiberal-democratic countries or tenuously democratic countries (e.g., China, Russia, Iran, Ukraine, Serbia, Turkey and Kenya) in CNEP IV (2009 to the present), the geographical scope and theoretical concerns of the project have expanded to facilitate the further exploration of the themes listed above, as well as new research questions involving democratic deconsolidation, the rise of populist parties, “fake news,” and the rapidly evolving impact of the internet.

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, 2018)
  • Dominican Republic (2010)
  • France (2017)
  • Germany (1990, 2017)
  • Great Britain (1992, 2017)
  • Greece (1996, 2004, 2015, 2019)
  • Hong Kong (1998, 2015, 2019)
  • Hungary (1998, 2006)
  • Indonesia (1999, 2004, 2009, 2014, 2019)
  • Iran (2016)
  • Italy (1996, 2006, 2013, 2018)
  • Japan (1993)
  • Kenya (2013)
  • Mexico (2006, 2012, 2018)
  • Mozambique (2004)
  • Portugal (2005, 2015)
  • Russia (2016)
  • Serbia (2020)
  • South Africa (2004, 2009, 2014, 2019)
  • Spain (1993, 2004, 2011, 2015)
  • Taiwan (2004, 2016, 2020)
  • Turkey (2014)
  • Ukraine (2019)
  • United States (1992, 2004, 2012, 2016, 2020)
  • Uruguay (1994, 2004)

The Ohio State University is the host for this CNEP website, and the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at OSU 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.

Data sets are located on two different pages in this website.  Data from most of the surveys conducted through 2018 are freely available to the general public. A merged file pooling standardized CNEP variables from 53 of these publicly-available surveys (excluding Germany 1990 and Japan 1993) also is available to the general public.  These can be downloaded from the website page called “Publicly Available Surveys.”  Some of the surveys conducted within the past five years have been reserved in a password-protected file for use by the CNEP principal investigators.  As each of these data sets reach the end of the fifth year of this embargo (if not earlier), it will be transferred into the Publicly Available file for general use. After the CNEP variables in new surveys have been standardized, they will be added to the merged file for use by CNEP principals and, eventually when individual survey embargoes have been lifted, for release to the general public.

This website also lists numerous publications that have resulted from the individual country studies and from cross-national analyses of their data. The centerpiece of this scholarly output is presented in two edited books produced by CNEP partners: Gunther, Montero, and Puhle (eds.), Democracy, Intermediation, and Voting on Four Continents (Oxford, 2007); and Gunther, Beck, Magalhães, and Moreno (eds.) Voting in Old and New Democracies (Routledge, 2016). 15 other books, 62 book chapters, 44 journal articles and 19 working papers growing out of this project are also listed in this website.

Paul Beck and Richard Gunther, both Emeritus Professors of the Department of Political Science and Senior Research Fellows at the Mershon Center at Ohio State, are currently the co-directors of CNEP and the administrators of this website. If you have questions about CNEP and its research efforts, please contact them at gunther.1@osu.edu or beck.9@osu.edu.


Posted by Richard Gunther August 28, 2021.