A new issue of The Takeaway describes how, in addition to violent conflict, armed rebel groups also engage in a wide range of non-violent political projects, including holding popular elections.
Rebel elections have become a common feature of contemporary civil wars. In the latest issue of The Takeaway, Democracy on the Battlefield? Why Armed Groups Hold Elections, Bush School of Government & Public Service faculty member Reyko Huang helps answer the question of why armed groups devote time, effort, and resources to organizing elections and mobilizing ordinary people to vote, when they could concentrate on the battlefield.
Based on a recently published research article on “Rebel Elections in Civil War,” Huang’s policy brief describes how rebels use elections to assert their authority and increase their legitimacy. She also notes that external states need to understand and consider local legitimacy politics before calibrating their intervention policies. For example, with ample external aid and little need for local support, rebels are likely to move their focus toward the battlefield and maintaining relations with their external sponsors, and away from meeting local civilians’ needs.
The Takeaway is a publication of the Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy at the Bush School of Government & Public Service at Texas A&M University.