Political Violence

An Inquiry into the Use of Illegal Electoral Practices and Effects of Political Violence and Vote-buying

Research Question
: When do political parties instigate electoral violence and resort to other illegal practices and what are the consequences of those on African’s democracy?

untitledDespite the advances in the introduction of political-competition, a number of recent elections in Africa have been illegitimate and violent. The troubled record of African elections has called into question whether democracy is in retreat in the continent and how competitive electoral processes can be made to work in countries deeply divided by ethnic allegiances.

This project undertakes a micro-level analysis of Kenya, in order to shed light on a macro-level phenomenon: electoral violence and vote-buying. Specifically, the objectives of this project are threefold. First, to analyze whether political parties in Kenya employed illegal electioneering practices strategically before and after the 2007 General Elections. Second, to investigate whether the post-electoral violence that erupted once the Presidential results were announced affected people’s ethnic identity, their support for democracy and the acceptability for the use of violence. Third, to link the micro-level findings with a deeper understanding of these issues at the general level, which should in turn feed into the debate on how the electoral process in Africa could be improved.

To answer these questions, a panel survey conducted before and after the elections is combined with external indicators of electoral violence. The evidence suggests that political parties target vote-buying towards specific groups to weaken the support of their political rivals and to mobilize their own supporters. Furthermore, parties instigate violence strategically in areas where they were less likely to win. Although the victims of violence would prefer that parties are no longer allowed to organize in ethnic or religious lines, they are more likely to identify in ethnic terms, support the use of violence and avoid relying on the police to resolve disputes. The overall findings suggest an increased risk of electoral-violence reoccurring in the country.

Publications: Gutiérrez-Romero, Roxana. 2014. An Inquiry into the Use of Illegal Electoral Practices and Effects of Political Violence and Vote-buying, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 58:8.

Gutiérrez-Romero, Roxana. 2012. An Inquiry into the Use of Illegal Electoral Practices and Effects of Political Violence, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, working paper CSAE 2012-16.

Keywords: Impact evaluation, political violence, democracy, Africa.

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