Violence and Democracy
Paul Staniland | 2014
Elections are standard practice in most of the world. Yet the rise of elections has not banished violent conflict; instead, they often co-exist. This review essay evaluates three recent books on electoral violence, and puts them in dialogue with previous research. It makes two arguments. First, electoral violence has been poorly conceptualized, undermining theoretical and empirical progress. The article provides a new typology of the varieties of electoral violence to guide future work. Second, an exciting new research frontier is explaining the consequences of electoral violence. From state building to patronage politics, electoral violence deserves a more central place in the study of the politics. Improving our understanding of electoral violence is crucial because the central challenge of contemporary democratization is transforming formal electoral processes into meaningful political participation free of the shadow of the gun.