Elections are now held in almost every country in the world. Yet the introduction of electoral processes in developing countries has led to a mix of voting and violence rather than the establishment of peace and stability, as violence in recent elections in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kenya, and Zimbabwe illustrates. Developing countries display various forms of violence closely linked to elections, such as incumbents intimidating opposition candidates and voters, armed groups using violence to disrupt electoral processes, or rioting between the supporters of opposing political parties. Until recently, a lack of globally available data complicated efforts to properly describe and understand election violence. This paper uses disaggregated event data from the Electoral Contention and Violence (ECAV) dataset to provide a global, post-Cold War assessment of election violence in the developing world. We first present a descriptive assessment, beginning with temporal and regional patterns, which show that most election violence occurs in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. We then examine timing, election type, electoral systems, and the actors and targets of election violence. Second, we probe the link between armed conflict and election violence. Violent elections in countries such as Afghanistan or Iraq highlight the challenges of holding elections during civil war, yet existing research has not been able to assess to what extent election violence takes place inside or outside of ongoing armed conflict. We conclude our systematic assessment of election violence with implications for scholarship and policy.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 53-64
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.