|Abstract:||This project explores the post-civil war elections with specific attention paid to the participants in these elections. Nearly every civil war in the past forty years has included an election in the years following the termination of the conflict but little only recently have scholars attempted to systematically examine the process and consequence of these elections. I examine the effects of war outcomes, political institutions, and international involvement on participation in these election, the results in both executive and legislative races, and post-election human rights practices.
The first substantive chapter, Chapter 3, asks who participates in post-war elections? While models of democratization and conflict typically involve at least two sides, current research in post-war elections pays little attention to who participates. I collect data on rebels and governments during civil wars, trace their leadership and party organizations through the campaigning process to see if they present candidates for national-level elections. According to my data, only ten-percent of elections that followed armed conflicts (1973-2011) included multiple sides from the previous conflict. Election outcomes in these cases also heavily favor war-winners, especially governments, suggesting that political competition offers little to losers and rebel organizations even if they do manage to participate. These patterns in participation and exclusion are primarily associated with material power, with war-winners and militarily strong groups more likely to participate and win by large margins in elections. International involvement and previous domestic institutions contribute to broader participation and help curb the government’s advantage in electoral competition, but are relatively rare and their effect smaller than the government’s advantages.
In Chapter 4, I seek to answer the question who wins post-war election. Moving beyond the question of whether a country holds a post-war election and who participates, perhaps the most important question is what is the outcome of the post-war election? The results suggest that like participation, election outcomes are primarily decided by military power with stronger parties winning by large margins in both executive and legislative competitions. This outcome is reinforced by the additional advantage that most governments, who are typically stronger than rebel groups, have in organization and political campaigning. While rebels almost always lose, governments face a more serious challenge from political parties that are not tied to former belligerent groups perhaps signifying that elections are an alternative to war and populations – if they are able to – will vote against both former rebels and governments that fought bloody civil wars. Democratic political institutions as well as election monitoring decrease a government’s advantage, though not enough to result in rebel victories. Peacekeeping, perhaps because it is not always focused on electoral outcomes, has no effect on the results of either executive or legislative elections.
The final empirical portion, Chapter 5, examines the consequences of post-war elections. I ask whether some post-war elections raise the risk of human rights abuses and compare elections where rebels participate to those where they do not. I use the Militant Group Electoral Participation (MGEP) dataset for information on rebel group participation and compare human rights practices in post-civil war states that include rebel organizations to that do not. I implement a number of matching strategies to adjust for imbalances across these two groups, notably confounders such as their history of rights practices and the outcome of previous wars that have a strong impact on both rebel participation and human rights practices. With no adjustment, rebel participation has a positive and significant effect on human rights practices. After matching, however, this difference disappears. The findings suggest that while rebel participation does not worsen human rights practices, it does not markedly improve them either. Future studies will examine whether this pattern holds when accounting for post-war election results, the activities of rebels during the elections, and perceptions of threat by the government.