The Institutional Roots of Electoral Violence

Project Overview

Project leader

Project Period

  • 2017 – ongoing

Other Project Employees

Project Description

Multiparty elections are fundamental components in the transition from authoritarian to democratic rule. But experiences from around the globe, for instance in Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Colombia, show that elections can degenerate into violence. Violent elections hinder individuals from exercising their political rights and risk undermining the legitimacy of democratic institutions.

Research on the causes of election-induced violence has primarily focused on the immediate factors that shape the dynamics of electoral contests, such as the uncertainty of the electoral outcome or the presence of election observers. This project shifts focus from the short-term to the long-term processes of how institutions develop during political transitions: How is the risk of election-induced violence influenced by institutional developments before, during and after the transition from authoritarian to democratic rule?

We use a mixed-method approach to capture the dynamics at play by combining quantitative and qualitative analysis. The project will provide a global dataset on violent electoral conflicts from 1989 to 2015. We will also conduct an in-depth analysis of Kenya and Zambia. These countries have similar electoral systems, but markedly different experiences of violence around elections. Jointly, the contributions will advance our understanding of the causes of electoral violence and its consequences for political institutions, peace and democracy.


Blog Post, Op Eds and Popular Science Articles

Related Publications (selected)

  • Fjelde, Hanne and Kristine Höglund, 2016. “Electoral Institutions and Electoral Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa.” British Journal of Political Science 46(2): 297-320.
  • Fjelde, Hanne and Kristine Höglund, 2016. “Electoral Violence: The Emergence of a Research Field.” APSA Comparative Democratization Newsletter 14(2). 
  • Ari, Bariş; Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, Håvard Hegre and Tore Wig, 2016. “Democratization and Civil Conflict.” Comparative Democratization 14(2):4–7. 
  • Brosché, Johan and Kristine Höglund, 2016. ”Crisis of Governance in South Sudan: Electoral Politics and Violence in the World's Newest Nation.Journal of Modern African Studies 54(1): 67-90.
  • Hegre, Håvard and Håvard Mokleiv Nygård, 2015. “Governance and Conflict Relapse.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 59(6):984–1016.
  • Wig, Tore, Håvard Hegre, and Pat Regan, 2015. “Updated Data on Institutions and Elections 1960–2012: Presenting the IAEP dataset version 2.0.” Research and Politics 2(2) DOI: 10.1177/2053168015580838.
  • Strasheim, Julia and Hanne Fjelde, 2014. “Pre-designing Democracy: Institutional Design of Interim Governments and Democratization in 15 post-conflict Societies.” Democratization 21(2): 335-358.
  • Opitz Christian, Hanne Fjelde, and Kristine Höglund, 2013. “Including Peace: The Influence of Electoral Management Bodies on Electoral Violence.Journal of Eastern African Studies (7)4: 713-731.
  • Fjelde, Hanne, 2010. “Generals, Dictators and Kings: Authoritarian Regimes and Civil Conflict 1973-2004.” Conflict Management and Peace Science. 27(3): 195-218.
  • Höglund, Kristine, 2009. “Electoral Violence: Causes, Concepts and Consequences.” Terrorism and Political Violence 21(3): 412-427.
  • Hegre, Håvard and Hanne Fjelde, 2009. “Post- Conflict Democracy and Conflict Recurrence,” p. 79–90 in J. Joseph Hewitt, Jonathan Wilkenfeld & Ted Robert Gurr, eds, Peace and Conflict 2010. Paradigm Publishers.

Main Financial Support

Related Research

Last modified: 2021-09-15