Political legacies of electoral violence: Understanding challenges for democratic transition

Project Leader

Hanne Fjelde, Associate Professor

Project Period

2017 – ongoing

Other Project Employees

Henrik Angebrandt, Associate Professor, Stockholm University

Project Description

Over the past decades, the global rise in the number of regimes holding multiparty elections has been accompanied by growing concerns over electoral contests marred by violence. Whereas electoral violence is incompatible with the notion of free and fair elections, the political consequences of such violence for regime trajectories are not clear. Addressing this puzzle, the purpose of this project is to examine how electoral violence shapes the preconditions for successful democratic transition and consolidation.

To shed light on diverging democratization trajectories, the project focuses on the role of opposition parties and civil society in monitoring incumbent transgression against democratic norms and coordinating the citizenry for peaceful collective action in the context of violence.

The project explores the political legacies of electoral violence at three levels of analysis. At the national level, quantitative analysis will provide insights on how the relationship between electoral violence and democratic outcomes is mediated by opposition strength and civil society. A sub-national analysis, with both a qualitative and quantitative component, will probe the mechanisms through which opposition and civil society actors shape political trajectories in the face of electoral violence. At the individual level, a novel, survey experiment will study how the threat or exposure to electoral violence influence attitudes that provide the micro-foundations of stable democratic governance.

The project is financed by the Swedish Research Council. 

Related publications

  • Themnér, Anders (ed.) (forthcoming), Warlord Democrats in Africa: The Security Effects of Integrating Ex-Military Leaders into Electoral Politics, London: Zed Publishing.
  • Opitz Christian, Hanne Fjelde, and Kristine Höglund. 2013. 'Including Peace: The Influence of Electoral Management Bodies on Electoral Violence.' Journal of Eastern African Studies (7)4: 713-731.