When Do Governments Resort to Election Violence?


Emilie M. Hafner-Burton, Susan D. Hyde and Ryan S. Jablonski

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Hafner-Burton, Emilie M., Susan D. Hyde and Ryan S. Jablonski. When Do Governments Resort to Election Violence?. British Journal of Political Science, available on CJO2013. doi:10.1017/S0007123412000671.
When are governments most likely to use election violence, and what factors can mitigate government incentives to resort to violence? How do the dynamics of election violence differ in the pre- and post-election periods? The central argument of this article is that an incumbent's fear of losing power as the result of an election, as well as institutionalized constraints on the incumbent's decision-making powers, are pivotal in her decision to use election violence. While it may seem obvious to suggest that incumbents use election violence in an effort to fend off threats to their power, it is not obvious how to gauge these threats. Thus, a central objective of this article is to identify sources of information about the incumbent's popularity that can help predict the likelihood of election violence. The observable implications of this argument are tested using newly available cross-national evidence on elections, government use of pre- and post-election violence, and post-election protests from 1981 to 2004.
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