Inken von Borzyskowski | 2019

The Credibility Challenge: How Democracy Aid Influences Election Violence

Cornell University Press

The key to the impact of international election support is credibility; credible elections are less likely to turn violent. So argues Inken von Borzyskowski in The Credibility Challenge, in which she provides an explanation of why and when election support can increase or reduce violence.

Von Borzyskowski answers four major questions: Under what circumstances can election support influence election violence? How can election support shape the incentives of domestic actors to engage in or abstain from violence? Does support help reduce violence or increase it? And, which type of support—observation or technical assistance—is better in each instance? The Credibility Challenge pulls broad quantitative evidence and qualitative observations from Guyana, Liberia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Bangladesh to respond to these questions.

Von Borzyskowski finds that international democracy aid matters for election credibility and violence; outside observers can exacerbate postelection violence if they cast doubt on election credibility; and technical assistance helps build electoral institutions, improves election credibility, and reduces violence. Her results advance research and policy on peacebuilding and democracy promotion in new and surprising ways.

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