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Electoral Institutions and Electoral Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa

Abstract

Political violence remains a pervasive feature of electoral dynamics in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, even where multiparty elections have become the dominant mode of regulating access to political power. With cross-national data on electoral violence in Sub-Saharan African elections between 1990 and 2010, this article develops and tests a theory that links the use of violent electoral tactics to the high stakes put in place by majoritarian electoral institutions. It is found that electoral violence is more likely in countries that employ majoritarian voting rules and elect fewer legislators from each district. Majoritarian institutions are, as predicted by theory, particularly likely to provoke violence where large ethno-political groups are excluded from power and significant economic inequalities exist.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.
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Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University (email: hanne.fjelde@pcr.uu.se). The authors wish to thank Stephan Hamberg, Lisa Hultman and participants at the Institutions for Sustainable Peace workshop in San Diego, 2012, for helpful comments on previous versions. The research was funded by grants from the Research Council of Sweden, project 421/2010/1515 and the Research Council of Norway, project 217995/V10. Data replication sets and online appendices are available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007123414000179.

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