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Domestic and International Determinants of Election Violence

Final Report Summary - ELECTION VIOLENCE (Domestic and International Determinants of Election Violence)

In November 2018, Afghanistan held parliamentary elections despite a highly unstable security environment. Ten candidates were killed before election-day, a quarter of polling stations could not open because of security conditions, and on election-day alone, 27 people were killed and 100 others wounded. Elections held in Bangladesh, Brazil, the Congo, and Zimbabwe in 2018 also involved substantial violence, and observers are already raising concerns about violence in the 2019 Nigerian elections. As these examples show, holding elections under precarious security conditions is not unusual. A rapidly growing literature is exploring the causes and consequences of electoral contention and violence, yet a major limitation is the lack of comprehensive data on its incidence. The Electoral Contention and Violence (ECAV) project conceptualizes electoral contention as nonviolent or violent acts of contestation by state or nonstate actors related to the electoral process and pursues two main goals.

First, the project collects a geocoded event dataset on incidents of electoral contention from 1990-2012 for all countries with unconsolidated democratic regimes called the ECAV dataset. The data contain more than 18,000 events of election-related contention covering 136 countries holding competitive national elections between 1990 and 2012 (see figure 1). ECAV addresses current data limitations by focusing on election-related contention, by using clear criteria to determine whether events are election-related, and by identifying the timing, geocoded location, and actors involved. The data can be used for a variety of research designs, are publicly available at the project data website, and are described in a forthcoming article (Daxecker, Amicarelli, and Jung 2019). The data confirm that electoral violence and protest are indeed widespread. Since the end of the Cold War, about 80% of countries experiencing armed conflict have held one or more elections while conflict was ongoing. More generally, 30% of all elections held outside of advanced, industrialized democracies since 1991 have experienced deadly violence (Daxecker and Jung 2018; Daxecker, Amicarelli, and Jung 2019). Second, the project develops and empirically examines novel arguments on electoral contention and violence. Publications and work in progress include work examining the relationship between election fraud, international observers and election violence, research on how fraud experiences affect post-election protest, and a working paper on institutional biases and incentives for violence. Forthcoming articles will be available open access, and working papers are published on the researcher’s website.

Funding from the Marie Curie Career Reintegration Grant helped the researcher to reintegrate in the European scientific community after 10 years spent in the United States. She is now well established in the European research landscape and has a network of collaborators working on conflict research in the Netherlands, the EU, and beyond. The researcher has a permanent position as Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam. The project also employed research assistants who have gone on to pursue PhD positions or pursue private and public sector careers.