Department of Political Science

Merete Bech Seeberg

Fighting your friends? A study of intra-party violence in sub-Saharan Africa

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This article focuses on a less visible and less studied type of political violence, namely violence that occurs within political parties. We use new, district-level data to compare the temporal and spatial dynamics of intra-party violence to those of general election violence across selected sub-Saharan African countries, including both democracies and autocracies, from 1998 to 2016. Relying on cross-national and sub-national analyses, we show that intra-party violence follows a unique pattern. First, unlike general election violence, intra-party violence peaks prior to election day as it is often sparked by individual parties’ candidate nomination processes. Second, low levels of competitiveness – typically theorized to reduce the risk of election violence – increase the risk of intra-party violence on the sub-national level. Thus, dominant party elections do not necessarily see less election-related violence than hotly contested elections. Rather, violence may be pushed from election day to intra-party competitions. If we neglect the study of violence within political parties, we thus risk underestimating the threat of election violence and misdiagnosing its causes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDemocratization
Volume25
Issue6
Pages (from-to)1033-1051
Number of pages19
ISSN1351-0347
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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