Why Electoral Malpractices Heighten Risks of Electoral Violence

31 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2012 Last revised: 29 Aug 2012

See all articles by Pippa Norris

Pippa Norris

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); University of Sydney

Date Written: 2012


Outbreaks of electoral violence trigger widespread bloodshed and destruction, destabilize fragile democracies, and derail progress in human development. To explain this phenomenon, this paper theorizes that electoral malpractices undermine feelings of regime legitimacy and mobilizes protest politics. Whether channeled through peaceful demonstrations or through outbreaks of violent conflict, however, and also how regimes respond to public disaffection, is theorized to depend upon the historical experiences of democracy and the contemporary regime in power. To develop this argument, Part I establishes the conceptual and theoretical framework. Part II describes the research design, sources of evidence, and selection of indices. Part III presents the results of the analysis. The main findings indicate (i) electoral violence is a widespread challenge, observed in roughly one fifth of all elections worldwide and distributed across multiple countries in many global regions, not simply a problem concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa; (ii) electoral integrity does have a significant impact by reducing outbreaks of electoral violence, as expected; (iii) protest politics, and also state repression, increase the risks of conflict. The conclusion in Part IV interprets the main findings and considers their broader implications.

Keywords: electoral violence, peace and conflict, comparative politics, electoral integrity, protest politics

Suggested Citation

Norris, Pippa, Why Electoral Malpractices Heighten Risks of Electoral Violence (2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2104551

Pippa Norris (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-1475 (Phone)
617-496-2850 (Fax)

University of Sydney ( email )

University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006

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