Understanding the Etiology of Electoral Violence: The Case of Zimbabwe
Recent theoretical and empirical work indicates that incumbent governments are likely to attempt to influence election outcomes by violent means (rather than by bribery and fraud) when their level of popular support is relatively low. However, evidence also suggests that in some countries electoral violence can be quite easy to thwart through peaceful means. This may seem surprising when the incumbent has control over an extensive and well-equipped state security apparatus. The analysis of Zimbabwean data in this paper suggests an explanation: the incumbent prefers to avoid the direct involvement of the state security apparatus when intimidating voters (perhaps because such involvement would undermine the incumbent’s legitimacy abroad), and relies instead on informal groups with very limited organizational capacity. One consequence in Zimbabwe is that the intimidation is heavily focused in places where the incumbent is relatively popular, ceteris paribus.
Publisher: University of Otago
Series number: 1505
ISSN: 1178-2293 (Online)
Keywords: elections; voter intimidation; Zimbabwe
Research Type: Discussion Paper
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