November 17, 2021

Strategic Violence

Outline

  • Elite manipulation: fomenting violence
    • motive
    • opportunity
  • What is the evidence? Does this work?

Motive

Motive

Why do elites encourage violence?

  • increase chances of winning elections
  • why? Anticipate that violence will unify ethnic community behind ethnic party

Motive

Key empirical implications:

  • ethnic parties stand to gain from violence, should encourage it
  • non-ethnic parties stand to lose, should stop violence
  • violence is more likely near elections, and when elections are competitive (close)
  • violence should actually affect voting

Opportunity

Opportunity

What enables elites to foment/stop violence? In India…

  • Brass (2004): “institutionalized riot networks”
    • patronage networks connecting low-level party officials, Hindu nationalist organizations, criminals, police officials
    • can be used even when not holding office
  • Nellis et al (2016): MLAs have patronage netorks, power over police, to defuse/stop ethnic violence

Opportunity

Berenschot (2011):

  • “institutionalized riot networks” are really just everyday political networks
    • Patronage and access to state services/resources
    • Political influence over capacities for violence (police/crime)
    • Delhi Riots
  • political parties with different interests mobilize these networks differently.

Evidence

Evidence:

Ethnic parties have motive to foment violence when elections are competitive and opportunity to foment violence

Non-ethnic parties have motive to reduce violence and opportunity to reduce violence when they hold office

Evidence:

Berenschot (2011):

In Ahmedabad (Gujarat) during 2002 riots:

  • Mixed Dalit-Muslim neighborhood with BJP (Hindu party) patronage network saw mobilization for violence
  • Mixed Dalit-Muslim neighborhood with Congress (multi-ethnic party) patronage network saw mobilization to defuse violence

Evidence:

Key empirical implications:

  • ethnic parties stand to gain from violence, should encourage it (anectdotally)
  • non-ethnic parties stand to lose, should stop violence
  • violence is more likely near elections, and when elections are competitive (close)
  • violence should actually affect voting

Evidence: Competition

Wilkinson (2004) looks at riots in towns in Uttar Pradesh

  • towns are more likely to experience riots when elections are less than 6 months away
  • towns in which the last MLA election was won by \(<5\%\) more likely to experience riots

In small groups:

  • Is this evidence that parties use violence strategically (when elections are competitive)?
  • Are there other possible interpretations? (correlation \(\neq\) causation)

Evidence: Competition

Heightened ethnic tensions for another reason (e.g., nationalist propaganda, prior violence, etc.)

  • may cause elections to be competitive
  • may make additional riots more likely

Hard to know that competition causes riots to be more likely.

Evidence:

Key empirical implications:

  • ethnic parties stand to gain from violence, should encourage it (anectdotally)
  • non-ethnic parties stand to lose, should stop violence
  • violence is more likely near elections, and when elections are competitive (close) (maybe)
  • violence should actually affect voting

Evidence: Does Violence Benefit Parties?

How would we know whether riots benefit ethnic / hurt non-ethnic parties at the polls?

  • comparing places with riots to places without?
  • comparing election results in a place before/after riots?
  • comparing changes in election results in places with riots against places without

Evidence: Does Violence Benefit Parties?

Nellis et al (2016) find that riot in the year prior to an election…

  • decreases votes for Congress Party (multi-ethnic) at the next election, compared to places without riot
  • increases votes for BJP (Hindu ethnic party) at the next election, compared to places without riot

Evidence: Does Violence Benefit Parties?

Iyer and Shrivastava (2018) exploit “as-if random” riots to find the effect of riots on BJP (ethnic party) voteshare:

  • look at riots occurring when Hindu festivals fall on Friday (Muslim holy day)
  • these occur due to arbitrary overlap in religious calendars, inducing precipitating events
  • find that riots increase BJP voteshare

Evidence:

Key empirical implications:

  • ethnic parties stand to gain from violence, should encourage it (anectdotally)
  • non-ethnic parties stand to lose, should stop violence
  • violence is more likely near elections, and when elections are competitive (close) (maybe)
  • violence should actually affect voting (yes)

Evidence: Do non-ethnic parties stop violence?

Nellis et al(2016) find that:

  1. riots hurt Congress party electorally
  2. Congress party historically depends on Muslim voters

Does electing a Congress MLA cause a constituency to have fewer riots?

  • when the non-ethnic party has both motive and opportunity, does it work to inhibit ethnic violence?

Evidence: Do non-ethnic parties stop violence?

How would we know whether Congress MLAs stop riots?

  • compare places with/without Congress MLAs?
  • could there be bias in this comparison?

Evidence: Do non-ethnic parties stop violence?

Nellis et al (2016) focus on places with random exposure to Congress MLA:

  • Compare constituencies where Congress barely won (by \(<1\%\)) to where Congress barely lost (by \(<1\%\))
  • like an experiment, with treatment (Congress MLA) and control (Non-Congress MLA)
  • No significant differences between constituencies where Congress won vs lost close elections.

Evidence: Do non-ethnic parties stop violence?

Evidence: Do non-ethnic parties stop violence?

Evidence:

Key empirical implications:

  • ethnic parties stand to gain from violence, should encourage it (anectdotally)
  • non-ethnic parties stand to lose, should stop violence (yes)
  • violence is more likely near elections, and when elections are competitive (close) (maybe)
  • violence should actually affect voting (yes)

Conclusion

Conclusion:

  • Ethnic parties have motive and opportunity to foment violence
  • Substantial evidence that they actually do foment violence, that it is “works”

Questions remain:

  • Why does violence win support for ethnic parties?