Dangerous elections : A study on electoral violence and clientelism

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för freds- och konfliktforskning

Abstract: Why do some elections spark violence whilst others do not? That is a question that has gained increased interest from scholars during the last few years. However, because of the field’s relative novelty, and despite the vast literature on democratization and civil war, it is still a question that is not fully comprehended. In this thesis, a theory claiming that clientelism should increase the risk of electoral violence is presented. It is argued that clientelism increases the stakes of elections by increasing the costs of losing and the rewards of winning them. This should also increase the risk that electoral violence is employed as a strategy in elections. It is further argued that this relationship should be present both when an incumbent is partaking in the election and when no incumbent does so. It is further argued that violence both prior to and after elections should correlate positively with clientelism. The theory is tested by a series of regression models. It is found that clientelism only has a consistently positive and statistical significant relationship with post-election violence. Furthermore, evidence is found disproving the hypothesis that electoral violence is positively correlated with clientelism regardless of whether an incumbent partakes in the election or not. On the other hand, evidence is found that a condition for the proposed theoretical mechanism is that an incumbent is running for office. The thesis contributes to the knowledge about electoral violence in general, but also to the vast literature on democratization in Africa.

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