Book Project

Political Order and Election Violence in Nigeria

Many countries hold regular multiparty elections today, a fundamental feature of democracy. Yet an estimated 25-30% of these contests annually are marred by violence as those in power and different non-state actors, from well-organized armed groups to ordinary citizens, work together to carry out violence to influence elections. As politicians increasingly resort to violence to stymie or roll back democracy and remain in power, understanding when and why they do so, and in collaboration with whom, is an urgent topic for scholars and practitioners alike.

Political Order and Election Violence in Nigeria explains when and why subnational incumbents and nonstate groups jointly organize physical violence to influence election results. It asks and answers when incumbents demand election violence, who supplies it for them and why, and draws on richly detailed qualitative data to show how these dynamics emerge from the underlying patronage-based political order. The book project also demonstrates that partnerships between incumbents and certain types of groups can pull locations into a vicious cycle of violence, making them election time “hot spots.” The empirical evidence comes from Nigeria, a country with some of the highest rates of election violence in the world; it is also Africa’s most populous country, a major oil-producer, and the continent’s biggest economy. The findings contribute to scholarship on election violence and offer key insights for policymakers and practitioners working on reducing election-related violence in Nigeria and beyond.