Rigging elections with violence

Abstract

In most developing countries even today, political parties spend a substantial fraction of their resources in attracting voters through ideological exhortation as well as force. In this paper we present a model of political contest between two parties that compete in two distinct arenas though the goal of the contest in both arenas is the same-to garner more political support. In the first, which we call “ideological”, the contest involves no use of force. In the second, which we call “conflictual”, party activists use violence either to force ideological supporters of the competing party to vote in their favor or restrain them from voting. We show that a party with lower initial political support will resort to more political violence, ceteris paribus and as the fraction of undecided voters goes up, elections will tend to be less conflictual. We also show that if there is an incumbency advantage, then the resources devoted to creating political unrest increase in equilibrium and political competition is more violent. We also provide some historic and journalistic evidence that supports our results.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Aranson, P. H., Melvin, J. H, & Ordeshook, P. C. (1974). Election goals and strategies: equivalent and non-equivalent objectives. American Political Science Review, 68, 135–152.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Austin, D. (1994). Democracy and violence in India and Sri Lanka, RIIA Chatham House Papers.

  3. Baumol, W. (1992). Innovation and strategic sabotage as a feedback process. Japan and the World Economy, 4, 275–290.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Brass, P. (1997). Theft of an idol: text and context in the representation of collective violence, Princeton: Princeton University Press, New Jersey.

  5. Chibber, P. (1998). Democracy without associations: Transformation of the party system and social cleavages in India, Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.

  6. Dahrendorf, R. (2004). Democracy without Democrats, project Syndicate, See website www.project-syndicate.org.

  7. Hibbs, D. (1973). Mass political violence: A cross-national causal analysis, Wiley. New York.

  8. Konrad, K. (2000). Sabotage in rent seeking contests. Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, V 16(N1), 155–165.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Lazear, E. (1989). Pay equality and industrial politics. Journal of Political Economy, 97, 561–580.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Rapoport, D., & Weinberg, L. (2001). Elections and violence. In The Democratic Experience and Political Violence, Frank Cass Publishers. London; Portland OR.

  11. Seymour, C., & Frary, D. P. (1918). How the world votes—The story of democratic development in elections. C.A. Nichols Company. Springfield, Massachusetts.

  12. Skaperdas, S., & Grofman, B. (1995). Modeling negative campaigning. American Political Science Review, 82, 720–739.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Skaperdas, S. (1996). Contest success functions. Economic Theory, 7, 283–290.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Skaperdas, S. (2003). Restraining the genuine homo economicus: Why the economy cannot be divorced from its governance. Economics and Politics, 15, 135–162.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Sutter, D. (2003). Detecting and correcting election fraud. Eastern Economic Journal, 29, 433–451.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Tullock, G. (1980). Efficient rent seeking. In J. M. Buchanan, R. D. Tollison, & G. Tullock (Eds.), Toward a Theory of the Rent Seeking Society, College Station: Texas A&M University Press.

  17. Wantchekon, L., & Ellman, M. (2000). Electoral competition under the threat of political unrest. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 499–531.

  18. Wantchekon, L. (1999). On the nature of first democratic elections. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 43(2), 230–243.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Zakaria, F. (1997). The rise of illiberal democracies. Foreign Affairs, 76(6), 22–43.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ashish Chaturvedi.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Chaturvedi, A. Rigging elections with violence. Public Choice 125, 189–202 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11127-005-3415-6

Download citation

Keywords

  • Public Finance
  • Political Party
  • Substantial Fraction
  • Political Support
  • Political Competition