Polls of Fear? Electoral Violence, Incumbent Strongholds, and Voter Turnout in Côte d'Ivoire

How, and under what conditions, does electoral violence influence voter turnout? Existing research often builds on the assumption that electoral violence demobilizes voters, but our knowledge of how electoral violence affects voting behavior is still inconclusive. In particular, we lack knowledge of the conditions under which electoral violence depresses voter turnout. This study takes a subnational approach to probe whether electoral violence decreases voter turnout and examines the conditional effect of local incumbent strength. Starting from the observation that both national and local electoral incentives shape voter mobilization in the midst of violence, I argue that the negative effect of electoral violence on voter turnout should be greater in localities where the incumbent is stronger. This is because voters in opposition strongholds have greater incentives to ensure large margins of victory and have purposive incentives for voting that make them more resilient to electoral violence. I explore the argument using an original subnational dataset of electoral violence prior to Côte d’Ivoire’s 2021 legislative elections. The analysis finds that electoral violence was associated with lower voter turnout rates at the voting district level, and that this negative association was greater in districts where the incumbent was stronger. The study contributes fresh knowledge on the democratic consequences of electoral violence, and suggests that opposition forces may be more resilient to electoral violence than often assumed.

Political Territorial Control and Conflict-Related Violence in Postwar Abidjan

What explains spatial patterns of conflict-related violence in contested postwar cities? Existing studies of postwar violence tend to study the structural determinants of violence, but we still lack knowledge of the processes whereby political territorial control shapes and is shaped by violence. We argue that conflict-related violence in postwar cities is best viewed as part of a process of political territorialization whereby the postwar government seeks to undermine the opposition’s pockets of political territorial control. Opposition territoriality in cities constitutes a threat to the postwar regime, as such areas can function as a springboard for urban insurgency or political opposition. Both the government and the opposition therefore have stronger incentives to employ violence in opposition strongholds: the government to undermine the opposition’s territorial control, and the opposition to fortify its turf. We explore our argument on postwar Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, drawing on an original georeferenced dataset of conflict-related violence events and in-depth case studies of three urban districts. Patterns of conflict-related violence in postwar violence conform to our theoretical expectations, meaning that violence was more severe in opposition strongholds and of a character consistent with a process of political territorialization. Taken together, the study contributes new knowledge on how processes of political territorialization play out in postwar cities and shape the spatiality of conflict-related postwar violence.

Civilian Protest in Civil War: Insights from Côte d'Ivoire

Scholars recognize that civilians engage in nonviolent collective action against governments and rebel groups to tamp down on violence and call for peace. Yet, scholars often fail to appreciate the full range of demands that civilians raise in warzones and tend to overlook civilian action against certain targets and concerning particular issues. Such omissions risk romanticizing civilians and impede knowledge of civilian collective action in civil war. This study introduces wartime civilian protest as a concept that unifies these different actions within a single conceptual framework, and identifies four overarching protest types: alignment protests, intervention protests, peace-related protests, and reform protests. Moreover, the study demonstrates the analytical benefits of considering different protest types in tandem rather than isolation. To illustrate the typology’s validity and utility, the study introduces and analyzes the first comprehensive georeferenced event dataset of 284 wartime civilian protest events during the civil war in Côte d’Ivoire. The analysis sheds new light on the limitations of the Ivorian peace process, the contested nature of international peacemaking and peacekeeping, and how civilians related to armed actors in rebel-held areas. Taken together, the study speaks to the burgeoning literature on civilian collective action in civil war and emerging practice on how to involve civilians as partners in civilian protection, peacemaking, and peacebuilding.

Civil War Recurrence and Postwar Violence: Toward An Integrated Research Agenda

Violence after civil war is a challenge to sustainable peace. Many armed conflicts today are recurrences of previous wars and much of the literature on violence after war explains why armed groups return to the battlefield. But even if peace prevails, many other types of violence take place in postwar environments. This postwar violence is likewise subject to a growing multidisciplinary literature. Using citation network analysis, we show that research on war recurrence and postwar violence has developed in relative isolation from each other—although these phenomena are interrelated. This compartmentalization leads us to overlook important similarities and differences in the drivers of different forms of violence after war. We demonstrate this by reviewing the literature in both of these closely related fields. While war recurrence and postwar violence share a set of common risk factors, some factors can have opposite effects on the two outcomes. Because these insights only emerge when systematically comparing the two strands of literature, we propose a novel framework for the study of violence after wars that aims at overcoming the compartmentalization of research within these two fields. The framework serves both as a conceptual lens and an analytical tool to categorize and compare different forms of violence after war. We then outline how the framework aids scholars in pursuing an integrated research agenda, with concrete suggestions for research questions that should be studied to expand our understanding of violence after wars.

Local Elites, Civil Resistance, and the Responsiveness of Rebel Governance in Côte d'Ivoire
Local Elites, Civil Resistance, and the Responsiveness of Rebel Governance in Côte d'Ivoire

Why is rebel governance more responsive in some areas than in others? In recent years, scholars have started to examine the determinants of rebel governance. Less attention has been given to explaining variation in the responsiveness of rebel governance, that is, the degree to which rebels are soliciting and acting upon civilian preferences in their governance. This article seeks to address this gap by studying local variation in rebel responsiveness. I argue that rebel responsiveness is a function of whether local elites control clientelist networks that allow them to mobilize local citizens. Strong clientelist networks are characterized by local elite control over resources and embeddedness in local authority structures. In turn, such networks shape local elites’ capacity for mobilizing support for, or civil resistance against, the rebels, and hence their bargaining power in negotiations over rebel governance. Drawing on unique interview and archival data collected during eight months of fieldwork, as well as existing survey data, the study tests the argument through a systematic comparison of four areas held by the Forces Nouvelles in Côte d’Ivoire. The analysis indicates that the strength of local elites’ clientelist networks shapes rebel responsiveness. Moreover, it provides support for the theorized civil resistance mechanism, and shows that this mechanism is further enhanced by ethnopolitical ties between civilians and rebels. These findings speak to the burgeoning literature on rebel governance and to research on civil resistance. In addition, the results inform policy debates on how to protect civilians in civil war.

Guns and Governance: Local Elites and Rebel Governance in Côte d'Ivoire

Close to one billion people live in conflict zones around the world, many of them in areas under rebel influence. Research on civil war shows that rebels often engage in governing localities under their control by creating institutions and practices intended to shape the social, political, and economic life of civilians. However, we lack knowledge about why rebel governance is more responsive to civilians in some areas than in others. This study addresses this research gap by developing and testing a novel theoretical framework for explaining local variation in rebel responsiveness. Rebel responsiveness refers to the degree to which the rebels are soliciting and acting upon civilian preferences in the way in which they govern. The empirical investigation focuses on rebel governance by the Forces Nouvelles in Côte d’Ivoire between 2002 and 2010. To assess and refine the theoretical framework, the study conducts in-depth case studies of four localities: Odienné, northern Man, southern Man, and Vavoua. While the four areas shared several characteristics and were all governed by the Forces Nouvelles, rebel governance was responsive in Odienné and northern Man, but unresponsive in southern Man and Vavoua. The case analyses build on original and extensive material collected through interviews and in Ivorian archives. The study also tests the argument through a complementary quantitative analysis of 162 rebel-held areas in Côte d’Ivoire. The main conclusion of the study is that rebel governance was more responsive in areas with strong local elites than in areas with weak local elites. Strong local elites have extensive control over access to resources and enjoy high levels of social authority, which enables them to mobilise local citizens to either cooperate with or resist the rebels. This combination of cooperation and civil resistance incentivises rebels to make their rule more responsive towards civilians. The study refines our conception of rebel governance, generates new knowledge on the causes of rebel responsiveness, and sheds new light on how local elites and citizens shape rebel rule. Taken together, the findings have important implications for the protection of civilians in civil war.

Climate Change and Violent Conflict in East Africa: Integrating Qualitative and Quantitative Research to Probe the Mechanisms

How does climate change affect the risk and dynamics of violent conflict? Existing research shows that climate change can increase the risk of violent conflict and significantly alter the dynamics of existing conflicts. Less is known about the exact mechanisms through which climate change affects violent conflict. In this article, we address this lacuna in light of the first systematic review of both quantitative and qualitative scholarship. Through an analysis of forty-three peer-reviewed articles on climate-related environmental change and violent conflict in East Africa published 1989–2016, we evaluate to what extent the literature provides coherent explanations that identify relevant mechanisms, actors, and outcomes. In addition, we discuss the expected temporal and spatial distribution of violence and the confounding political factors implied in the literature. Against this background, we offer a number of suggestions for how future climate-conflict research can theorize and explore mechanisms. Future research should distinguish between explanations that focus on causes and dynamics of climate-related violent conflict, theoretically motivate when and where violence is most likely to occur, systematically examine the role of state policies and intervention, and explore the implications of each explanation at the microlevel.