Electoral Violence in Africa Revisited
Terrorism and Political Violence
abstract
This article addresses the still unsettled question of the incidence of violent election periods in Africa. It uses two new datasets, which report episodes of social conflict in the region for 1990–2011, and elections worldwide from 1960 to 2010. When combined, these data suggest that onsets of electoral violence peak around major election days in Africa as a whole, but with wide national variability in the volume of new episodes. Depending on the time span and type of social conflict, from one-quarter to three-quarters of the elections for national leadership have been without incident. The article also investigates the timing of electoral violence and the extent to which there is an experience curve effect, whereby subsequent elections have fewer onsets of social conflict. The data indicate that two-thirds to three-quarters of elections are free of onsets of social conflict, but that the proportion does not change much with experience. Overall, there appear to be reasonable grounds for optimism about peaceful elections in many African countries.