Recent decades have seen growing concern about contentious elections, where contests end in a flurry of protests and violence. In many cases, popular protests gradually fade away. In others, discontent triggers bloodshed. There are many catalysts for contentious elections. Even minor electoral irregularities can attract public demonstrations and opposition challenges. 

In response to these developments, there have been growing attempts to understand the causes and consequences of contentious elections. New research, including chapters presented in this volume, employs diverse sources of evidence, including the analysis of cross-national time-series indicators and national surveys of public opinion, as well as case studies.  It is timely to take stock of these developments. 

This volume brings together a distinguished range of international experts to analyze the growing body of new evidence; to compare alternative theoretical frameworks used to explaining the causes of contentious elections; and to apply these insights to understand several cases, including in Central and Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as global comparisons.

The theory unfolded in this volume suggests that problems of electoral malpractice erode confidence in electoral authorities, spur peaceful protests demonstrating against the outcome, and, in the most severe cases, lead to outbreaks of conflict and violence.

Understanding this process is of vital concern for domestic reformers and the international community, as well as attracting a growing new research agenda.