Violence, bribery, and fraud: the political economy of elections in Sub-Saharan Africa

Research paper by Paul Collier, Pedro C. Vicente

Indexed on: 09 Mar '11Published on: 09 Mar '11Published in: Public choice


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.