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Surviving Elections: Election Violence, Incumbent Victory and Post-Election Repercussions

  • Emilie M. Hafner-Burton, Susan D. Hyde and Ryan S. Jablonski

It is often assumed that government-sponsored election violence increases the probability that incumbent leaders remain in power. Using cross-national data, this article shows that election violence increases the probability of incumbent victory, but can generate risky post-election dynamics. These differences in the consequences of election violence reflect changes in the strategic setting over the course of the election cycle. In the pre-election period, anti-incumbent collective action tends to be focused on the election itself, either through voter mobilization or opposition-organized election boycotts. In the post-election period, by contrast, when a favorable electoral outcome is no longer a possibility, anti-government collective action more often takes the form of mass political protest, which in turn can lead to costly repercussions for incumbent leaders.

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School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California, San Diego (email:; Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley (email:; Department of Government, London School of Economics and Political Science (email: Replication data is available at and online appendices are available at

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