Protecting The Vote? Peacekeeping Presence And The Risk Of Electoral Violence

Hanne Fjelde & Hannah Smidt

Democracy assistance, including the promotion of electoral security, is often a central component of contemporary peacekeeping operations. Preventing violence during post-conflict elections is critical for the war-to-democracy transition. Yet, we know little about the role of peacekeepers in this effort. To fill this gap, we provide the first comprehensive sub-national study of peacekeeping effectiveness in reducing the risk of electoral violence. We combine geo-referenced data on peacekeeping deployment across all multidimensional peacekeeping missions in Africa over the past two decades with fine-grained data on electoral violence. We find a negative association between peacekeeping presence and the risk of electoral violence. The relationship is of similar magnitude in the pre- and post-election period. However, the association is more strongly negative for violence perpetrated by non-state actors compared to violence perpetrated by government-affiliated actors. Analyses using two-way fixed effects models and matching mitigate potential selection biases.

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