Political Parties, Violent Youth and Electoral Insecurity


Ghadafi Saibu

Research Area:


The „third wave‟ democratization process in sub-Sahara Africa gave birth, in some cases a rebirth to multiparty democracy in the region in the early 90s. It has been over two decades now since then, and a lot of the countries, at least half of them in the continent have made some commendable strides in democratic developments; especially, they have held several multi-party elections which have been reasonably free and fair. Yet, despite this positive development in the path of democratization in Africa, multi-party contests in the region to a large extent have been characterized with different manifestations of violence and other violations of democratic norms, notably in Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, La Côte d’Ivoire among others. This has led to an increase in electoral violence and insecurity in the continent quite recently. One of the major reasons accounting for this is the activities of violent youth (party foot – soldiers, youth gangs and private militia) in political activities and elections across African countries. Violent youth have been at the forefront of confrontations in widespread of mass killings, death threats, mob attacks, arson, murder, molestation, destruction of property, voter intimidation, forcefully disenfranchisement of other groups, sectarian violence and stealing of ballot boxes at polling stations during elections. However, cross – sectional studies that focus on the mobilization of youth by parties and party leaders are missing.


This study therefore intends to fill this important gap by investigating two main research questions: Firstly, it will look at what explains variation across space in the nature and intensity of violent youth activities in Africa. Secondly, it will look at how the networks of violent youth, political parties and party leaders are created and sustained. The Greed – Grievances theories and the Selective Violence theory will be utilized for theoretical framework of the study. The nature of the research design is mixed research as it will utilize quantitative and qualitative data such as datasets, multiple sources of information and interviews for Comparative and Network Analysis of the study.