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The Credibility Challenge: How Democracy Aid Influences Election Violence, Inken von Borzyskowski

Reviewed by Mariya Y. Omelicheva

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The vast majority of countries use elections as a method for transferring political power. Credible elections are the most important characteristic of legitimate political rule. Yet about a quarter of national elections worldwide experience electoral violence, which afflicts electoral contests in the developing world at a higher rate (p. 3). How does election support affect electoral violence? This is the main question examined in The Credibility Challenge: How Democracy Aid Influences Election Violence. Inken von Borzyskowski addresses this question by developing the Credible Election Theory and testing it using a quantitative analysis of more than 460 national elections conducted in 70 African and Latin American countries from 1990 to 2012. The detailed cross-national analysis is supplemented by multiple case studies tracking the impact of international assistance on electoral violence.

The book’s argument, in a nutshell, is that credible elections are less likely to turn violent and that international electoral assistance can make elections more or less credible, thus changing the incentives of domestic actors (p. 150). Whether or not electoral support reduces violence depends on the type of assistance and its timing. Both technical assistan

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