Election-related conflict or violence can occur at any stage of the electoral process – from pre-election registration, candidate nomination and campaigning to election day balloting to post-election results. Although election-related conflict is an under-researched area, there is a small body of literature that addresses its potential causes and methods of prevention and mitigation. The following are key areas discussed:
- Electoral system choice – There is an unsettled debate about whether proportional representation (PR) systems are better than majoritarian first-past-the-post systems at preventing the renewal of violence. Mixed systems and ‘vote pooling’ have been advocated as possible alternatives.
- Electoral administration – Neutral, fair and transparent election management bodies (EMBs) are considered integral to the proper functioning of elections, as are election courts.
- Consultation – Electoral administrative institutions are also important as a source of consultation and joint-decision making.
- Political parties – Programmes to support capacity building of political parties can be beneficial in preventing violence. The disarmament of armed groups and the question of whether to include them in the political process is another key issue.
- Civic education, media and election monitoring – Civic education and non-violence training programmes can be helpful. The media can play a role in both spurring and stemming violence.