Elections, Democracy and Urban Political Mobilization in the Developing World

52 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2017 Last revised: 31 Jan 2019

See all articles by Henry Thomson

Henry Thomson

Arizona State University; Arizona State University (ASU) - Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

Halvard Buhaug

Peace Research Institute Oslo

Elisabeth Rosvold

Peace Research Institute Oslo

Henrik Urdal

International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO)

Date Written: January 29, 2019

Abstract

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

Thomson, Henry and Buhaug, Halvard and Rosvold, Elisabeth and Urdal, Henrik, Elections, Democracy and Urban Political Mobilization in the Developing World (January 29, 2019). ASU Center for the Study of Economic Liberty Research Paper No. 18-5. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3054750 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3054750

Henry Thomson (Contact Author)

Arizona State University ( email )

Tempe, AZ
United States

Arizona State University (ASU) - Center for the Study of Economic Liberty

United States

Halvard Buhaug

Peace Research Institute Oslo ( email )

Oslo, NO-0134
Norway

HOME PAGE: http://www.hbuhaug.com

Elisabeth Rosvold

Peace Research Institute Oslo

Oslo, NO-0134
Norway

Henrik Urdal

International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) ( email )

Oslo
N-0260 Oslo
Norway

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