n Conflict Trends - Election related violence : beyond electoral systems and normative standards

Volume 2012, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1561-9818


Electoral violence is becoming a common feature in African politics. Analyses of the causes of this phenomenon often focus on the electoral process and institutions charged with overseeing it. Election-related violence, however, reflects deep-seated problems including dislocations in the socio-economic and political fabric. In other words, elections can easily become a mechanism through which public questions on issues of governance and distribution of national resources are violently contested. In identifying the basis of election related violence, this article aims to focus not only upon the rules and procedures for administering elections, but also on the broader structural architecture of governance. There are many conceptions of electoral democracy, each of which has distinct implications about what kind of legislation should be adopted. Moreover, there is a growing body of literature that deals specifically with the question of how the design of election systems can either prevent conflict or promote peaceful solutions to existing ones.

This article therefore maintains that lasting solutions to election related violence should not only be sought in the technical deficiencies of the electoral process. Rather, broader structural problems of governance must also be addressed.

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