Beyond First Elections: The Importance of Consistency in the Timing of Recurrent Elections
40 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2016
Date Written: June 2016
Is the regularity of elections a requisite for political stability? Scholars have empirically examined a number of features regarding elections in new democracies, including frequency, alternation, and orderliness, but little work has considered the potential impacts of consistency in the intervals in which they occur. Notwithstanding, predominant conceptualizations of democracy require that governments hold elections at regular intervals. This study examines the extent to which the regularity of the intervals in which elections occur affects political stability. Using newly released data from the Varieties of Democracy project, we estimate a model predicting internal armed conflict based on the pattern of previous elections. We argue that consistent election intervals send a valuable signal of actors’ commitment to regularly hold elections, in part by providing a focal point for coordinated actions in the future. By better specifying the multiple ways in which elections are time-dependent, the analysis contributes to a more robust consideration of the means by which elections promote power-sharing under tenuous circumstances.
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