Elections, Violence, and Parties: New theory, data, and evidence on the nature, organization, and consequences of electoral violence.
Countries across the world now hold elections, but are often unable or unwilling to guarantee free, fair and peaceful elections. Violence regularly precedes, accompanies, or succeeds elections, undermining democracy and people’s trust in electoral processes. While scholars and practitioners have made important progress in identifying the conditions that make elections violent, we do not have a good understanding of how violence plays out on the ground: Who engages in violence, who is targeted with violence, and when and where is violence most common?
To answer these questions, the Elections, Violence, and Parties (EVaP) project presents new theory and evidence on the nature, organization, and consequences of electoral violence. We attribute a central role to political parties as important actors linking politicians and citizens. The project examines the conditions under which party organizations themselves perpetrate violence, or when they jointly produce violence with other non-state actors such as ethnic leaders, religious organizations, gangs, or militias. We also explore how violence influences its targets — we ask if violence increases or decreases turnout, polarization, and ethnic attachment?
A Multi-Method Approach: The project assesses electoral violence sub-nationally in India and Nigeria, two of the world’s largest democracies.
The Election, Violence, and Parties (EVaP) project uses a multi-method approach to examine within country variation in party institutions, social support, and election violence in India and Nigeria. Our portfolio of methods include surveys, experiments, elite interviews, and quantitative analysis. The project is in the process of developing primary data on violent events and conflicts linked to elections. This geo-coded dataset covers violence to intimidate voters, harass the opposition, communal riots, disputes, and other small-scale political violence. The project also collects data on elections and voting patterns for local, state, and national elections at the booth-level. In doing so, it creates a micro-level record of violence, contentious politics, and elections. Second, the project has implemented surveys with embedded conjoint and list experiments to study the influence of violence on voter participation, electoral competition, turnout, and voting behaviour. Third, project members will be conducting field interviews to examine the purpose of electoral violence and enunciate the processes of production of electoral violence. Fourth, using secondary sources, such as local and national media reports, the project uses content and network analysis to examine the joint-production of violence, the axis of political contention, the construction of contention, and to connect actors to motives of violence.