Title The Credibility Challenge
Subtitle How Democracy Aid Influences Election Violence
Author Inken von Borzyskowski
ISBN 9781501736544
List price GBP 40.00
Price outside India Available on Request
Original price
Binding Hardbound
No of pages 246
Book size 153 x 229 mm
Publishing year 2019
Original publisher Cornell University Press (Combined Academic Publishers)
Published in India by .
Exclusive distributors Viva Books Private Limited
Sales territory India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, .
Status New Arrival
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“This rigorous, compelling addition to the research literature on international democracy aid makes two especially valuable contributions—probing the complex, at times troubling relationship between international election assistance and electoral violence, and highlighting the neglected issue of technical elections assistance, rather than only focusing on electoral observation. Highly recommended for both practitioners and scholars.”

Tom Carothers, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


“Many elections in Africa and Asia are marred by outbreaks of violence, leading to instability and bloodshed. What triggers conflict? This thought-provoking new book suggests that technical election assistance by the international community strengthens public confidence in the electoral authorities, generates credible outcomes, and thereby dampens violence. An invaluable and original contribution for scholars and practitioners interested in international development, civil wars, democracy and elections.”

Pippa Norris, Harvard University


The Credibility Challenge is such a timely book. Intuitive and compelling, it enriches and expands our understanding of the causes of election violence. This book will find eager readership among scholars of comparative politics.”

Emily Beaulieu, University of Kentucky, and author of Electoral Protest and Democracy in the developing World


“If the UN blue helmet was the symbol of the international community’s commitment to creating peace in the developing world, then the election monitor was its equivalent for democracy promotion. Today having an election observed’ by international monitors is a prerequisite for having its results deemed credible. When monitors deter fraud, elections run better and are less violent. But if monitors criticize an election, opposition groups are emboldened to take their case to the streets and the risk of violence spikes. The Credibility Challenge documents this tension through painstaking data collection and state-of-the-art statistical methods. It is an important book for theorists and practitioners of democracy.”

Irfan Nooruddin, Georgetown University


“Inken von Borzyskowski’s The Credibility Challenge is thought-provoking and sure to stir debate about the appropriate role of international actors in their longstanding efforts to promote democracy around the world.”

Susan Hyde, University of California, Berkeley


“In this carefully-argued and meticulously-documented book, von Borzyskowski upends the conventional wisdom that elections in poor places are bound to be violent. Focusing on Africa and Latin America, the author shows that whether elections are violent or not depends on external technical assistance and international election observers. Technical assistance makes for more peaceful contests, whereas observers’ denouncements of fraud make for more violence. A rare combination of rigor, empirical depth, and policy-relevance, this study will set the tone in the conversation on the role of the international community in elections.”

Nikolay Marinov, University of Houston


The Credibility Challenge is a clear, compelling, and engaging account of how international monitoring and assistance can reduce election violence. The importance of the topic, the novelty of the data, and the careful manner in which evidence is examined make this book a real achievement.”

Daniela Donno Panayides, University of Pittsburgh, and author of Defending Democratic Norms


“Given our increasing need to understand the effects and effectiveness of democracy aid, The Credibility Challenge: How Democracy Aid Influences Election is a very impor- tant read for both academics and practitioners... By showing the effects of technical assistance as a credibility enhancer and of election observation as an accountability enhancer or fraud certifier, the book can help us make better use of development aid and select most appropriate approaches depending on context and time in the electoral cycle. It also serves as a good reminder that, in the democracy field, good intentions do not necessarily lead to posi- tive results.”



“Overall, this is an interesting and important addition to the literature.”



“A seminal work of consistently insightful and meticulous scholarship, The Credibility Challenge is a timely and exceptionally well written, organized and presented contribution to community, college and university library Contemporary Political Science collections and supplemental studies lists.”

Midwest Book Review


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.


List of Figures and Tables




Introduction: The Question of Democracy Aid and Election Violence           

Chapter 1. Credible Election Theory

Chapter 2. Shaping the Electoral Environment: International Support and Pre-Election Violence

Chapter 3. The Dark Side: International Condemnation and Post-Election Violence

Chapter 4. The Upside: Technical Assistance and Reduced Post-Election Violence

Conclusion: Improving Democracy Aid for Credible and Peaceful Elections

Appendix to Chapter 1

Appendix to Chapter 3





About the Author:

Inken von Borzyskowski is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Florida State University. Her research has appeared in International Studies Quarterly, British Journal of Political Science, and Review of International Organizations.

Target Audience:

This book is a must-read for people interested in political science. and election monitoring in developing countries.


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