Elections, Democracy and Urban Political Mobilization in the Developing World
52 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2017 Last revised: 31 Jan 2019
Date Written: January 29, 2019
Rapid urbanization is transforming the developing world, but the political consequences of this transformation are not well understood. In this paper, we argue that political contention and mobilization in the urban environment differs from other forms of political activity in its scale, speed, salience and scope. We present an expanded dataset on social disturbances in 102 cities from 1960-2014, showing that rates of disorder continue to increase. In contrast to established accounts of elections stabilizing authoritarian regimes, we argue that they are significantly correlated with distinct urban mobilization processes by organized and unorganized groups. Organized groups mobilize before elections to influence their results, and respond to institutional incentives to mobilize. Unorganized groups react spontaneously in the aftermath of elections to contest their results. Our findings suggest that urban social disorder promises to be a significant feature of politics in the developing world in coming decades.
Keywords: democratization, elections, conflict, urban politics
JEL Classification: D72, D74, O18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation