Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, June 24th, 2021

Best Practices to Prevent Electoral Violence

Electoral violence is a major threat in countries with week electoral bodies, week governance systems and widespread corruption. Research findings suggest that political systems based on patronage and clientelism are more likely to experience election violence. In political systems in which formal political institutions are superseded by informal relationships based on the exchange of resources and political loyalty, political supporters seem willing to perpetrate election violence in support of their preferred candidates. Also the weakness of electoral management bodies, such as electoral commissions, play an important role in establishing credible elections. The presence of pre-existing conflicts, such as terrorism, ongoing conflicts over land or other resources, also increases the likelihood of election violence. While this relationship can have several explanations, one appears to be the tendency for politicians to adopt the grievances of conflicting factions into their campaigns. This is one of the main strategies of some Afghan candidates to incite people using their grimaces to achieve their political goals in Afghanistan. This approach is very evident during the elections in the country.
Research shows international election observation missions may decrease the likelihood of pre-election violence, but interestingly they may increase the likelihood of post-election violence if they expose attempts at election fraud. A growing number of studies also find significant differences in how men and women experience election violence. However, too few policy interventions in the field explicitly take these differences into account.
In particular, electoral violence prevention efforts are more successful when they are coordinated by a strong coalition or consortium. A cooperative approach such as this has several advantages, but the field research shows that one critical component of a coordinated intervention platform is that it more easily facilitates practitioners’ ability to deeply engage a full range of political parties and candidate in their efforts. Inclusion of the politicians themselves is key in developing successful violence mitigation strategies. Prevention efforts are more successful when practitioners are able to gain access to and adopt methods successfully used in other countries. This strongly suggests that successful investments in secure elections in one country can have positive spillover effects in other countries via transnational civil society networks. Violence prevention efforts are also more successful when 4 practitioners have access to geographical violent incident mapping during the campaigns. Both civil society actors and state organizations are able to target their resources best when they have access to accurate, up-to-date information on violent events in their respective countries as well as information on critical areas most likely to experience various types of election violence.
Donors should consider placing additional resources into program follow-up assessments as well as long-term programming for those youth who are likely to participate in violence. Reforms of the security services, in particular how police are prepared to deal with protests, crowd control, and conflicts between party supporters are in need of considerably more attention from donors. Several existing violence prevention programs engage the security services in only a superficial manner, despite the frequency with which the police are responsible for election-related fatalities.
Electoral violence is wide spread phenomena in developing countries; especially in those countries that have very week electoral bodies, week governance systems and suffer from wide spread corruption. As some candidates may use public grivances as tool for political violence, the government, civil society, Afghan religious scholars and tribal leaders shall concert their efforts to prevent the violent conflicts by creating a coordination framework that represents the members of all of the aforementioned stakeholders. As the Afghan presidential election result will be announced soon, all presidential candidates shall prefer the national interests to their own ones and shall accept the decision of the electoral bodies as the legal institutions authorized to manage the election process in Afghanistan. Furthered, if there are any groups who pursue to incite the people for theory personal gains, Afghan civil society, political parties and leaders, and international community shall not allow them to take any measures beyond the law in the country.