Electoral Violence, Corruption, and Political Order

Electoral Violence, Corruption, and Political Order

by Sarah Birch


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A comprehensive look at how violence has been used to manipulate competitive electoral processes around the world since World War II

Throughout their history, political elections have been threatened by conflict, and the use of force has in the past several decades been an integral part of electoral processes in a significant number of contemporary states. However, the study of elections has yet to produce a comprehensive account of electoral violence. Drawing on cross-national data sets together with fourteen detailed case studies from around the world, Electoral Violence, Corruption, and Political Order offers a global comparative analysis of violent electoral practices since the Second World War.

Sarah Birch shows that the way power is structured in society largely explains why elections are at risk of violence in some contexts but not in others. Countries with high levels of corruption and weak democratic institutions are especially vulnerable to disruptions of electoral peace. She examines how corrupt actors use violence to back up other forms of electoral manipulation, including vote buying and ballot stuffing. In addition to investigating why electoral violence takes place, Birch considers what can be done to prevent it in the future, arguing that electoral authority and the quality of electoral governance are more important than the formal design of electoral institutions.

Delving into a deeply influential aspect of political malpractice, Electoral Violence, Corruption, and Political Order explores the circumstances in which individuals choose to employ violence as an electoral strategy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691203621
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 07/21/2020
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Sarah Birch is professor of political science in the Department of Political Economy at King’s College London. Her books include Electoral Malpractice and Full Participation.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Preface and Acknowledgments ix

1 Introduction 1

Context and Argument 3

Definition and Typology 7

Data and Global Patterns 14

Chapter Preview 23

2 Carrots and Sticks: Toward a Theory of Electoral Violence 26

Power Structures and Electoral Violence 29

Choices for Incumbents: Carrots, Sticks, and Cheating 31

Opposition Reactions: Exit, Voice, or Disloyalty 37

The Production of Electoral Violence 41

Conclusion 49

3 Coercive Electoral Governance: The Use of Force by State Actors 52

Choices for State Actors 54

Overall Patterns 56

State Violence, Fraud, and Electoral Manipulation 60

Case Studies 72

Conclusion 84

Appendix to Chapter 3: Robustness Checks 85

4 Violence by Nonstate Actors 88

The Concept of Nonstate Electoral Violence 89

The Causes of Nonstate Electoral Violence 93

Protest and the Production of Violence by Nonstate Actors 99

Case Studies 104

Conclusion 116

5 Divergent Contexts and Patterns of Violent Elections 118

Violence before, during, and after Elections 119

Temporal and Geographic Patterns 124

Conclusion 139

6 Strategies of Electoral-Violence Prevention 141

Electoral-Violence Prevention in Theory and in Practice 142

The Impact of Electoral-Violence Prevention: Existing Evidence 146

Electoral-Violence Prevention and Institutional Design 148

Electoral-Violence Prevention and Electoral Governance 154

Case Studies 159

Conclusion 166

7 Conclusion: Implications for Theory, Policy, and Practice 168

Summary of Findings 170

Implications for Political Science 175

Implications for Institutional Design 177

Implications for Electoral Administration 178

Implications for International Electoral Assistance 178

Directions for Future Research 180

References 185

Index 207

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"This thoughtful book develops a theoretical framework to understand when electoral violence is and is not likely to occur. It represents the best kind of political science—a sophisticated engagement with real-world issues in all of their complexity. The clarity of thought, precision of language, and strong analysis will make Electoral Violence, Corruption, and Political Order a classic of its genre and required reading."—Nic Cheeseman, author of How to Rig an Election

"This important book examines election violence as one strategy of election manipulation, and considers the distinct motivations of government and opposition actors. Birch impressively engages with the vast and fast-moving literature on this topic and does a good amount of conceptual brush clearing that will be essential to the field."—Susan D. Hyde, author of The Pseudo-Democrat’s Dilemma

"Examining electoral violence as an instrument for political exclusion, this book is a welcome addition to an important field of inquiry for the promotion of democracy and violence prevention. Marked by empirical richness, the work advances knowledge on the determinants of electoral violence, its association with other forms of electoral manipulation, and suitable approaches for averting violence during electoral periods."—Kristine Höglund, Uppsala University

"Synthesizing a fragmented field, Birch offers an innovative account of election violence. With unprecedented empirical scope, her landmark work illustrates the centrality of violence in the political order of many nonconsolidated democracies and highlights the interdependency between violence and other forms of election manipulation. This novel and compelling book will greatly influence the field and inspire new, exciting research for years to come."—Michael Wahman, Michigan State University

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