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IPSA Workshop July 2016

Program and logistics:

New!  Download the final program and abstracts

New! Use the links in the schedule below to download full text workshop papers.

New! Download all workshop papers in one big file for electronic readers

This workshop presents paper panels and breakout discussions seeking to examine and explain the consequences of contentious elections for regime stability and change. When does conflict strengthen processes of democratization, such as where an outcry over election fraud and corruption destabilizes the old regime? When does it trigger a backlash or coup d’état which sets back democratic transitions? And when does conflict fizzle out without achieving any substantive reforms or opposition gains? New research on these issues will be presented using multiple methods comparing countries around the world.


  • Workshop organizers: Pippa Norris (Harvard and Sydney Universities), Alessandro Nai (University of Sydney) and Annette Fath-Lihic (International IDEA)
  • Workshop coordinator: Alexandra Kennett (University of Sydney) Email:  electoralintegrity [at]
  • Local coordinator: Max Groemping (University of Sydney) Email: 

Getting there:

  • Airport Lawica Airport (POZ) Travel Distance: Approximately 6.0 km/3.73 miles (10 min) Taxi  Fee:50 PLN
  • Trams are available throughout the city and are faster than traveling by car. From the city centre, to the north part of Poznan, you can take the Fast Tram PST. One-way, daily, and weekly tickets are available for purchase.
 Poznan city center Poznan, PolandLocation of Sheraton Hotel and Concordia Taste

Further logistical details:

Workshop theme: Contentious Elections, Conflict and Regime Transitions

Global concern about contentious elections has risen as elections have spread worldwide, becoming a standard part of the initial phases of peace-building and state-building processes even in inhospitable conditions, such as in Afghanistan, Libya, Nepal, and Iraq. 

The workshop builds upon the foundation established earlier in the edited book on Contentious Elections.[i]

Contentious elections are conceptualized as contests involving major challenges to the legitimacy of electoral actors, procedures, or outcomes, with different degrees of manifest severity in outbreaks of conflict and violence. 

In this understanding, contentious elections are apparent in contests experiencing popular or elite-level disputes challenging either the authority of electoral actors (such as the impartiality, authority, and independence of Electoral Management Bodies); the fairness of electoral procedures throughout the electoral cycle (including the rules of the game used to draw boundaries, register voters, candidates and parties, allocate elected offices, regulate campaigns, cast ballots, and translate votes into seats), and/or the legitimacy of outcomes and thus of those winning office (including representatives and political parties). 

In practice, the phenomenon of ‘contentious elections’ becomes evident if there is evidence of one or indeed several symptoms, which can be regarded as inter-related in a descending slope of growing severity, including: 
  1. Weak legitimacy, indicated by low or declining public trust and confidence in electoral processes, procedures and authorities and by low or weakening public participation in elections; 
  2. Peaceful protests: Contests with peaceful mass demonstrations, opposition boycotts, and/or court challenges;
  3. Incidents of election-related conflict occurring before, during or after polling day, as well as non-peaceful protests involving the deployment of coercive tactics, the destruction of property, and/or physical harm to people; and, in the most serious cases, 
  4. Election-related violence, defined by acts of physical coercion, or threats of such acts, involving any person or property at any stage of the long electoral cycle, including before, during, or after polling day.[ii]
Much attention has focused upon the contemporary problems of voting conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa, highlighted by cases such as Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, Togo, and Nigeria. In fact, however, electoral violence has been most common in South Asia, including in countries such as Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Philippines, Cambodia, Myanmar/Burma), as well as in the Pacific (e.g. the Solomon Islands, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea).[iii] 
What are the most important risk-points triggering election conflict and violence?

What causes electoral protests and violence? And what can be done to mitigate this conflict? Case-studies, based upon field reports, observer missions, media reports, and policy briefs have examined electoral violence in many specific countries, including in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Nigeria. IFES’s Election, Violence, Education and Resolution (EVER) project has worked with Election Management Bodies and civil society organizations to prevent or mitigate conflict in many countries.[iv] The UNDP published a report investigating electoral violence in Asia through analyses of case studies for seven countries in South and South-East Asia (Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and Thailand).[v] International IDEA has focused upon issues of electoral justice and dispute resolution mechanisms as a way to mitigate violence.[vi]

Research has commonly sought to explain the occurrence of electoral violence in terms of factors typically associated with the onset or recurrence of civil wars. Studies have emphasized three types of drivers electoral violence: long-term drivers arising from “fixed social conditions (for instance, the existence of lack of development, poverty and inequality, ethnic divisions[vii]), medium-term factors arising from the design of political institutions (such as the role of electoral laws as the use of winner-take-all electoral systems, the party systems, the presence of executive checks and balances[viii], the role and capacity of security forces, the strength of EMBs[ix], the effectiveness of courts[x]), and short-term proximate factors (as the role of mass/social media in exacerbating or reducing conflict[xi], the sequential timing of elections[xii] , the role of international community and observers in preventing and reducing tensions[xiii], or more generally the presence of electoral malpractices, real or perceived fraud, corruption and patronage[xiv]). 

What are the consequences of electoral conflict for regime change?

Despite a growing body of case-study research, however, little consensus surrounds the importance of each of the underlying causes, and even less is known about the consequences of electoral conflict. 

Scholars and policymakers need to identify the risks of contentious elections and understand their impact more fully as this phenomenon is widely acknowledged to have important consequences. In particular, outbreaks of violent conflict involving civilian casualties and even deaths during contentious elections can trigger widespread bloodshed, exacerbate inter-communal mistrust, and destabilize societies. Election-related violence and severe legitimacy challenges can undermine fragile democracies and reduce the capacity of the state to manage the delivery of effective welfare services and pro-poor growth. Thus many stakeholders, including Electoral Management Bodies, the courts and judiciary, security forces, the media and community leaders, face major challenges in minimizing electoral violence. 

The risks are highlighted by the Report of the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security, Deepening Democracy: A Strategy to Improve the Integrity of Elections Worldwide (2012). Estimates suggest that one in five contemporary elections worldwide involve violence (involving at least one civilian fatality), and many also trigger post-election protests.[xv]

This issue has risen in concern given the spread of elections worldwide, including as part of peace-building initiatives in fragile states. It has been estimated that more than 1.5 billion people live in fragile and conflict-affected countries.[xvi] In these places, as AusAID highlights, “Fragile states are countries where the government has limited capacity, or will, to provide basic services and security to its citizens and the relationship between the government and its citizens is weak. These states lack the institutions needed to resolve conflict peacefully. Few fragile or conflict-affected countries have achieved a single Millennium Development Goal and many are unlikely to do so by 2015.”[xvii]

Not only does electoral conflict potentially undermine fragile democracies and generate humanitarian disasters, it can also have disproportionate effects upon vulnerable populations who are the victims of conflict, including the poor, women, and young people, and displaced populations. Understanding the drivers of electoral violence can help to mitigate risk, promote effective mediations, and build institutions which can encourage sustainable peace and stable democracies. 

At the same time, one of the most striking observations about election-related conflict is that this phenomenon has generated several divergent outcomes for regime stability and change.[xviii] Some notable cases have led to subsequent regime transitions and revolutionary change strengthening processes of democratization (exemplified by the color revolutions in Eurasia).[xix] Alternatively, many cases of repeated, violent, or prolonged electoral-related conflict have failed to catalyze any reform concessions or process of regime change (exemplified by the relatively peaceful Hong Kong ‘umbrella’ protests).[xx] Finally, some cases of electoral-related conflict have led to anti-democratic reversals through a repressive backlash or, in some dramatic cases, military coups (such as in the February 2014 election in Thailand). 

The reasons for these divergent outcomes are complex and may be context-dependent, including the calculations of regimes in power and divisions within ruling elites (especially the role of the security forces); the level of peaceful or violent mass activism and the capacity of opposition forces and leaders to mobilize protest coalitions; the level of socio-economic inequality and inter-communal or ethnic divisions within society; the type of electoral malpractice triggering protests; contagion effects arising from politics in regional neighbors; and the response of the international community. 

This workshop will therefore present diverse contributions focusing on the causes and impacts of election-related conflict for regime stability and change in countries around the world.

Final program

Download the final program and abstracts (Pdf)

Map of panel meeting rooms in the Sheraton Poznan Hotel

Detailed schedule

8.30-9.00          Arrival and registration [Foyer]

9.00-9.30          Welcome to the workshop [Foyer]                           

                         Pippa Norris (Harvard and Sydney Universities) 
                          Annette M. Fath-Lihic (International IDEA) 

9.30-11.00        Panel 1. Comparing contentious elections: Triggers and risks [Universia room 3] 
                           Chair: Alessandro Nai (University of Sydney)
                           Discussant: Geoffrey Macdonald (George Washington University)

                           1.1. Svend-Erik Skaaning (Aarhus University) and Merete Seeberg (Aarhus University) 
                           Intra-party competition and electoral violence

                           1.2. Simon Finley (UNDP) (Paper available from author)
                           Political Settlements and the Impact on Transitions in the Asia-Pacific Region

                           1.3. Sarah Birch (University of Glasgow) and David Muchlinski (University of Glasgow) 
                            Exclusion, Uncertainty,and Electoral Violence 

                           1.4. Philipp Kuntz (University of Bochum)

                           1.5. Pippa Norris (Harvard and Sydney Universities)

11.00-11.15       Coffee/tea break [Foyer]

11.15-11.30       Workshop group photo [Foyer]

11.30-1.00         Panel 2. Minorities at risk and electoral violence [Concordia room 1]

                           Chair: Pippa Norris (Harvard and Sydney Universities)
                           Discussant: Ursula Daxecker (University of Amsterdam)

                           2.1. Ludovico Alcorta (Radboud University), Jeroen Smits and Haley Swedlund                             (Radboud University)

                           2.2. Aditi Malik (Penn State University)

                           2.3. Johan Saravanamuttu and Maznah Mohamad (National University of Singapore) 

                           2.4. Karen Bird (McMaster University)

                            2.5 Elin Bjarnegard (Uppsala University)
                            Gender and electoral violence: The case of the Maldives
2.5  Elin  Bjarnegård  (Uppsala  University)
11.30-1.00          Panel 3. The consequences of electoral violence for democratic legitimacy [Kaponiera room 2]

                           Chair: Elin Bjarnegard (Uppsala University)
                           Discussant: Alessandro Nai (University of Sydney)

                           3.1. Inken von Borzyskowski (Florida State University) and Patrick Kuhn (Durham
                           Does Election Violence Make You Hate Democracy But Love Autocracy? 

                           3.2. Hassan Nasir Mirbahar and Shafaq Kiani (Democracy Reporting International) 

                           3.3. Irma Mendez (FLACSO) and Nicolas Loza (FLACSO) 

                           3.4. Elizabeth I. Wellman (Yale University), Susan D. Hyde (University of California - Berkeley) and Thad Hall
                            (University of Utah)

1.00-2.30           Breakout discussion roundtables during buffet lunch [Universia room 3]                            

 In this breakout session, moderated by a practitioner, groups at each table will be asked to discuss two issues: What are the most important practical barriers to reducing electoral conflict? What could be done to reduce the risks of violence? Each table group will select a rapporteur to report back the key points to the plenary during the final 15-20 minutes. 

Table 1. Simon Finley (UNDP)

Table 2. Eva Palmans (ECES)

Table 3. Vasu Mohan (IFES)

Table 4. Erica Shein (IFES)

Table 5. Hamadziripi Munyikwa (EISA)

2.30-4.00           Panel 4. Dynamics of electoral competition and political elites [Concordia room 1]                           

                           Chair: Max Grömping (University of Sydney) 
                           Discussant: Jørgen Elklit (Aarhus University) 

                           4.1. Gabrielle Bardall (University of Montreal) 

                           4.2. Hamadziripi Munyikwa (Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa) 

                           4.3. Lily Rahim (University of Sydney) and Naser Ghobadzadeh   (Australian Catholic University) 

                           4.4. Gail Buttorff (University of Kansas) and Douglas Dion (University of Iowa) 
                           Authoritarian Elections, Legitimacy and Regime Stability Revisited 

                           4.5. Ursula Daexecker (University of Amsterdam) 
                           Electoral Contention and Violence (ECAV): A New Dataset 

2.30-4.00           Panel 5. Preventing electoral malpractices [Kaponiera room 2]                           

                           Chair: Svend-Erik Skaaning (Århus University) 
                           Discussant: Jeffrey Karp (University of Exeter)

                           5.1. Juvence Ramasy (University of Toamasina) and Eva Palmans (European Centre for Electoral Support) 

                           5.2. Geoffrey Macdonald (George Washington University) and Jonas Claes (United States Institute of Peace)
                           Keeping Elections Peaceful Ahead of the Crisis 

                           5.3. Vasu Mohan (IFES) 

                           5.4. Amal Hamdan (King's College London) 

4.00-4.30           Coffee/tea break 

4.30-6.00            Panel 6: Roundtable on international programs reducing the risks of contentious elections: Goals, approaches and effectiveness [Universia room 3]   

                            This session will give electoral practitioners from organizations involved in electoral assistance the opportunity to describe their experiences when operating with contentious elections. While electoral                                violence is regarded as the worst consequence of contentious elections, one should not disregard other risks related to electoral processes and the wider political and social context in which the                                        contests are taking place. Electoral practitioners will share their understanding of the matter with colleagues from the academia and see if current research and practices in the field can benefit from                                each other. Further know-how and practical tools of engagement by those organizations will be explained and shared. 

Chair: Annette Fath-Lihic (International IDEA)
Discussant: Simon Finley (UNDP)

6.1. Maarten Halff (UNEAD)

6.2. Richard Lappin (OSCE)

6.3. Chad Vickery (IFES)

6.4. Catalina Uribe Burcher (International IDEA)* 

6.5 Hamadziripi Munyikwa (EISA)


6.05-7.00           Drinks reception and book launch [Foyer]

 Checkbook Elections:  Political Finance in Comparative Perspective 

Pippa Norris, and Andrea Abel van Es (eds). 

New York: Oxford University Press. June 2016.

Brings forth new concepts, theories and evidence to illuminate issues of political finance. 

Contributors draw upon a wide range of cases in established democracies such as Britain, Sweden, and the United States, as well as diverse regimes such as South Africa, India, Indonesia and Russia. Presents cutting-edge research in an accessible manner.

ISBN:9780190603618 Order from: Oxford University Press Discount form for workshop US$27.97! Order from OUP online with 30% discount promotion code ASFLYQ6.
SAFE Curriculum: Secure and Fair Elections

Stockholm: International IDEA/ UNDP/ EIP. Nov 2015.


The Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) Workshop Model Curriculum combines academic and practitioner perspectives to provide a holistic insight into the principles, challenges and good practices related to electoral security.

The SAFE curriculum can be incorporated in electoral assistance programming, and can play an important role in strengthening the capacity of election practitioners and security-sector agencies. It will further assist other national and international stakeholders interested in safe elections.

7.00                      End of workshop

7.30-9.00             Dinner for invited paper-givers, chairs, and discussants: Restaurant Concordia Taste

 Zwierzniecka 2, Poznan  We will depart after the reception for three minute walk around the corner from the Sheraton Hotel, see the local map above.



[i] Norris, Pippa, Richard W. Frank and Ferran Martínez i Coma. 2015. Contentious Elections: From Ballots to Barricades. New York: Routledge

[ii] Following UNDP’s definition, electoral violence is further understood as follows: “Any acts or threats of coercion, intimidation, or physical harm perpetrated to affect an electoral process, or that arise in the context of electoral competition. When perpetrated to affect an electoral process, violence may be employed to influence the process of elections — such as efforts to delay, disrupt or derail a poll — or to influence the outcomes: the determination of winners in competitive races for political office, or securing the approval or disapproval of referendum questions.” UNDP. 2011. Understanding Electoral Violence in Asia. Bangkok: UNDP Asia-Pacific. 

[iii] Susan D. Hyde and Nikolay Marinov. Codebook for National Elections across Democracy and Autocracy (NELDA) Nov 10th 2011. 

[iv] See 

[v] UNDP. 2011. Understanding Electoral Violence in Asia. Bangkok: UNDP Asia-Pacific. 

[vi] Jesús Orozco-Henríquez. Ed. 2010. Electoral Justice: The International IDEA Handbook. Sweden: International IDEA. 

[vii] Paul Collier, Anke Hoeffler, and Nicholas Sambanis. 2005. ‘The Collier-Hoeffler model of civil war onset and the case study project research design.’ Ch 1 in Understanding Civil War. Eds Paul Collier and Nicolas Sambanis. Washington DC: The World Bank 

[viii] Timothy Sisk and Andrew Reynolds. Eds. 1998. Elections and Conflict Management in Africa. Washington DC: US Institute of Peace Press; Krishna Kumar. 1998. Post-conflict elections, democratization, and International Assistance. Boulder, Co: Lynne Rienner; Benjamin Reilly. 2002. ‘Post-conflict elections: Constraints and dangers.’ International Peacekeeping 9(2): 118; Pippa Norris. 2004. Electoral Engineering. New York: Cambridge University Press; Pippa Norris. 2008. Driving Democracy. New York: Cambridge University Press 

[ix] UNDP. 2011. Understanding Electoral Violence in Asia. Bangkok: UNDP Asia-Pacific. 

[x] Jesús Orozco-Henríquez. Ed. 2010. Electoral Justice: The International IDEA Handbook. Sweden: International IDEA. 

[xi] Nicole Stremlau and Monroe E. Price. 2009. Media, Elections and Political Violence in Eastern Africa: Towards a Comparative Framework. Oxford: An Annenberg-Oxford Occasional Paper in Communications Policy Research; Pippa Norris. Ed. Public Sentinel. Washington DC: The World Bank. 

[xii] Jack Snyder. 2000. From Voting to Violence: Democratization and Nationalist Conflict. New York: Norton; Edward D. Mansfield and Jack Snyder. 2007. Electing to Fight: Why Emerging Democracies go to War. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; Dawn Brancati and Jack L. Snyder. 2011. ‘Rushing to the polls: The causes of premature postconflict elections.’ Journal of Conflict Resolution 55(3): 469-492. 

[xiii] Njunga Mulikita. 1999. ‘Democratization and conflict resolution in Afria: The role of international/regional electoral observers.’ Peacekeeping and International Relations 28(3); Ursula E. Daxecker, 2012. ‘The cost of exposing cheating: International election monitoring, fraud, and post-election violence in Africa.’ Journal of Peace Research 49(4): 503-516

[xiv] UNDP. 2011. Understanding Electoral Violence in Asia. Bangkok: UNDP Asia-Pacific.

[xv] Jendayi E. Frazer and E. Gyimah-Boadi (Editors). 2011. Preventing Electoral Violence in Africa. Carnegie Mellon University; Dorina Bekoe. Ed. 2012. Voting in Fear: Electoral Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace.

[xvi] See AusAID’s Framework for working in fragile and conflict-affected states: 

[xvii] AusAID. 2011. Australia’s Aid in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States. Canberra: AusAID. 

[xviii] Kuntz, Philipp and Mark R. Thompson. 2009. ‘More than just the final straw stolen elections as revolutionary triggers.’ Comparative Politics 41(3): 253-+; Pippa Norris. 2014. Why Electoral Integrity Matters. NY: Cambridge University Press.

[xix] Bunce, Valerie J. and Sharon L. Wolchik. 2006. ‘Favorable conditions and electoral revolutions.’ Journal of Democracy 17: 5–18; Tucker, Joshua. 2007. ‘Enough! Electoral fraud, collective action problems, and post-communist colored revolutions.’ Perspectives on Politics 5(3): 535-551; Bunce, Valerie J. and Sharon L. Wolchik. 2011. Defeating Authoritarian Leaders in Post-Communist Countries. New York: Cambridge University Press; Bunce, Valerie J., and Sharon L. Wolchik. 2010. ‘Defeating dictators: Electoral change and stability in competitive authoritarian regimes.’ World Politics 62(1): 43–86.

[xx] Kalandadze, Katya and Orenstein, Mitchell A. 2009. ‘Electoral protests and democratization beyond the color revolutions.’ Comparative Political Studies 42(11): 1403-1425.