Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Clayton Thyne


Countries emerging out of armed conflicts face immense challenges in their efforts to build electoral democracies. Contrary to our intuition that elections can transform violent competition to peaceful political contests, past research suggests that holding post-conflict elections only increases the chance of renewed violence. Why are elections unable to build sustainable democracies as expected? In this dissertation, I examine the question by focusing on two levels of analysis. First, I study the effects of violence on political behavior of mass publics at the individual level using the World Values survey Dataset. I argue that citizens are more inclined to support undemocratic leaders, when they are faced with threats from armed violence. Empirically, I find that presence of pre-election violence in post-conflict elections leads voters to prefer parties that are stronger in terms of their violence-wielding capacities over more moderate and peaceful parties. Second, I investigate how such an outcome might influence the risk of renewed conflicts in a country emerging out of armed conflict. The hypothesized mechanism can only be described as tragic. At individual level, fearful voters support violent parties mainly to maintain the status quo, fearing that parties with a violent reputation are likely to renew conflict if they lose the election. Tragically, however, placing undemocratic and violent parties in power only increases the likelihood of renewed conflicts. I test this expectation using an event history model to analyze all post-conflict countries from 1950 to 2010 and find that the presence of pre-election violence in a country increases its risk of renewed armed conflicts. The study has important implication for policymakers and election monitoring bodies. Rather than the current practice of observing only a single event Election Day, this study emphasizes the importance of creating a secure environment during the pre-election phase, about six months prior to the first election, in order to achieve a sustainable peace in post-conflict countries.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)