Bullets over ballots: Islamist groups, the state and electoral violence in Egypt and Morocco
Kraetzschmar, Hendrik and Cavatorta, Francesco (2010) Bullets over ballots: Islamist groups, the state and electoral violence in Egypt and Morocco. Democratization, 17 (2). pp. 326-349. ISSN 1743-890X
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This article is concerned with state-sponsored electoral violence in liberalized autocracies. The first section of the paper identifies a number of variables that can help explain the decision calculus of authoritarian incumbents to deploy force against strong electoral challengers. The second section then examines these propositions with reference to Egypt and Morocco. Drawing on recent parliamentary elections in both countries the article questions why, despite facing the challenge of political Islam, the two regimes differed so markedly in their willingness to manipulate the polls by recourse to violence. Whilst the Egyptian authorities decided to abrogate all pretence of peaceful elections in favour of violent repression against the Muslim Brotherhood candidates and sympathizers, no such tactics were deployed by the ruling elite in Morocco. We suggest that three principal factors influenced the regimes' response to this electoral challenge: (1) the centrality of the elected institution to authoritarian survival; (2) the availability of alternative electioneering tools; and (3) the anticipated response of the international community. The article concludes by suggesting that in order to understand better when and how states deploy violence in elections, we need to focus on a more complex set of factors rather than simply on the electoral potency of key opposition challengers or the authoritarian nature of the state.
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