Throughout their history, political elections have been threatened by conflict, and the use of force has in the past several decades been an integral part of electoral processes in a significant number of contemporary states. However, the study of elections has yet to produce a comprehensive account of electoral violence. Drawing on cross-national data sets together with fourteen detailed case studies from around the world, Electoral Violence, Corruption, and Political Order offers a global comparative analysis of violent electoral practices since the Second World War.
Sarah Birch shows that the way power is structured in society largely explains why elections are at risk of violence in some contexts but not in others. Countries with high levels of corruption and weak democratic institutions are especially vulnerable to disruptions of electoral peace. She examines how corrupt actors use violence to back up other forms of electoral manipulation, including vote buying and ballot stuffing. In addition to investigating why electoral violence takes place, Birch considers what can be done to prevent it in the future, arguing that electoral authority and the quality of electoral governance are more important than the formal design of electoral institutions.
Delving into a deeply influential aspect of political malpractice, Electoral Violence, Corruption, and Political Order explores the circumstances in which individuals choose to employ violence as an electoral strategy.
Sarah Birch is professor of political science in the Department of Political Economy at King’s College London. Her books include Electoral Malpractice and Full Participation.
"This thoughtful book develops a theoretical framework to understand when electoral violence is and is not likely to occur. It represents the best kind of political science—a sophisticated engagement with real-world issues in all of their complexity. The clarity of thought, precision of language, and strong analysis will make Electoral Violence, Corruption, and Political Order a classic of its genre and required reading."—Nic Cheeseman, author of How to Rig an Election
"This important book examines election violence as one strategy of election manipulation, and considers the distinct motivations of government and opposition actors. Birch impressively engages with the vast and fast-moving literature on this topic and does a good amount of conceptual brush clearing that will be essential to the field."—Susan D. Hyde, author of The Pseudo-Democrat’s Dilemma
"Examining electoral violence as an instrument for political exclusion, this book is a welcome addition to an important field of inquiry for the promotion of democracy and violence prevention. Marked by empirical richness, the work advances knowledge on the determinants of electoral violence, its association with other forms of electoral manipulation, and suitable approaches for averting violence during electoral periods."—Kristine Höglund, Uppsala University
"Synthesizing a fragmented field, Birch offers an innovative account of election violence. With unprecedented empirical scope, her landmark work illustrates the centrality of violence in the political order of many nonconsolidated democracies and highlights the interdependency between violence and other forms of election manipulation. This novel and compelling book will greatly influence the field and inspire new, exciting research for years to come."—Michael Wahman, Michigan State University