Post-Soviet African democratization has introduced elections into contexts that often lack restraints upon the behavior of candidates, resulting in the emergence of voter intimidation, vote-buying, and ballot fraud. We propose a model of electoral competition where, although some voters oppose violence, it is effective in intimidating swing voters. We show that in equilibrium a weak challenger will use violence, which corresponds to a terrorism strategy. Similarly, a nationally weak incumbent will use repression. However, a stronger incumbent facing local competition will prefer to use bribery or ballot fraud. We discuss the applicability of the model to several African elections.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Basuchoudhary, A., & Shughart, W. F. II (2010). On ethnic conflict and the origins of transnational terrorism. Defense and Peace Economics, 21(1), 65–87.
Becker, G. S. (1983). A theory of competition among pressure groups for political influence. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 98(3), 371–400.
Besley, T. (2006). Principled agents? The political economy of good government. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bratton, M. (2008). Vote buying and violence in Nigerian election campaigns. Electoral Studies, 27, 621–632.
Bratton, M., & Kimenyi, M. S. (2008). Voting in Kenya: putting ethnicity in perspective. Journal of Eastern African Studies, 2(2), 272–289.
Chaturvedi, A. (2005). Rigging elections with violence. Public Choice, 125, 189–202.
Chauvet, L., & Collier, P. (2009). Elections and economic policy in developing countries. Economic Policy, 24(59), 509–550.
Collier, P., & Vicente, P. C. (2009). Votes and violence: evidence from a field experiment in Nigeria, University of Oxford and BREAD, Working Paper.
Dal Bo, E. (2007). Bribing voters. American Journal of Political Science, 51(4), 789–803.
Dekel, E., Jackson, M. O., & Wolinsky, A. (2008). Vote-buying: general elections. Journal of Political Economy, 116(2), 351–380.
Dixit, A., & Londregan, J. (1996). The determinants of special interests in redistributive politics. The Journal of Politics, 58(4), 1132–1155.
Downs, A. (1957). An economic theory of democracy. New York: Harper & Brothers.
Ellman, M., & Wantchekon, L. (2000). Electoral competition under the threat of political unrest. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115(2), 499–531.
Esteban, J., & Ray, D. (1994). On the measurement of polarization. Econometrica, 62(4), 819–851.
Groseclose, T., & Snyder, J. M. Jr. (1996). Buying supermajorities. The American Political Science Review, 90(2), 303–315.
Grossman, G. M., & Helpman, E. (1996). Electoral competition and special interest politics. Review of Economic Studies, 63(2), 265–286.
Grossman, H. I. (1991). A general equilibrium theory of insurrections. The American Economic Review, 81(4), 912–921.
Horowitz, D. L. (1985). Ethnic groups in conflict. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Kimenyi, M. S., & Shughart, W. F. II (2010). The political economy of constitutional choice: a study of the 2005 Kenyan Constitutional Referendum. Constitutional Political Economy, 21, 1–27.
Konrad, K. (2000). Sabotage in rent seeking contests. Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, 16(1), 155–165.
Lindbeck, A., & Weibull, J. W. (1987). Balanced-budget redistribution as the outcome of political competition. Public Choice, 52, 273–297.
Lizzeri, A., & Persico, N. (2001). The provision of public goods under alternative electoral incentives. The American Economic Review, 91(1), 225–239.
Myerson, R. B. (1993). Incentives to cultivate favored minorities under alternative electoral systems. The American Political Science Review, 87(4), 856–869.
Philipson, T. J., & Snyder, J. M. (1996). Equilibrium and efficiency in an organized voting market. Public Choice, 89, 245–265.
Robinson, J. A., & Torvik, R. (2009). The real swing voters’ curse. American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings, 99(2), 310–315.
Robinson, J. A., & Verdier, T. (2001). The political economy of clientelism. CEPR, Discussion Paper, 3205.
Roque, A. C. (2009). Angola’s façade democracy. Journal of Democracy, 20(4), 137–150.
Skaperdas, S., & Grofman, B. (1995). Modeling negative campaigning. The American Political Science Review, 89, 49–61.
Vicente, P. C. (2007). Is vote-buying effective? Evidence from a field experiment in West Africa. University of Oxford and BREAD, Working Paper.
Weiss, J. H. (1988). Is vote-selling desirable? Public Choice, 59, 159–194.
Wilkinson, S. I. (2004). Votes and violence: electoral competition and ethnic riots in India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
About this article
Cite this article
Collier, P., Vicente, P.C. Violence, bribery, and fraud: the political economy of elections in Sub-Saharan Africa. Public Choice 153, 117–147 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11127-011-9777-z
- Electoral politics
- Political economy
- Sub-Saharan Africa