The Election-Related Violence Incidences in Africa

Conveners: F. Gözde Çolak (Ankara University, Turkey);
e-mail:, Müge Dalar (Eskişehir Osmangazi University, Turkey); e-mail:

The transformation of social and political patterns of Africa is reflected in the democratization movements and elections. Unfortunately the elections in most African countries are characterized by instability, uncertainty and even violence. The election-related violence, which may occur before, during or after the elections is a direct result of economic and ethnic marginalization, land-related disputes, and the weak and ineffective civil society organizations in the political sphere of these countries. Needless to say, there are great differences across the 54
African countries. Some countries have seen little or no incidents of election-related violence,

whereas some others have witnessed violent electoral contests for decades. There are even significant variations between different elections within same country, while some turning violent and some not. Throughout this panel we will propose to analyze the recent elections that were resulted with different levels of violence in in a comparative way with references to the existing broad literature on democratization and election related violence. Election-related violence, in this panel, is regarded as a sub-category of political violence and distinguished primarily by looking to the timing and motivation of the violence. As well known, while the cultural perspective tries to explain the source of this kind of violence by pointing out the existence of a particular political culture; the structural perspective suggests that society and politics are organized in a manner that generates conflict. Apart from these perspectives, a historical approach, addresses directly to the structural questions in the African societies and politics, that is rooted in colonialism, regarding the social, political, economic and administrative dynamics of the countries. The violent events before, during and after the elections in these countries have lots of common in their social, economic and historical patterns while the course of events evolved in totally different ways. Thus, we will first examine the different level of violent incidents that took place before, during and after the elections. Then the transformation of these three states in terms of social equality and just representation will be compared. Our main research question is that which factors do lead an election process into a violent atmosphere. In that regard, the participation into the social welfare, the political parties and their influence over the wealth and emerging civil society that create immense impact to politics are the main parameters of the comparison and analyze. As a result of this comparison we aim at making re-interpretation of main reasons behind the electoral violence by engaging with the existing literature and drawing some conclusions about the future of democracy in Africa.