Elections generate incentives for contention and violence.
However, collective action problems mute responses to strategic incentives by
unorganized individuals, relative to organized groups. Variation in the severity
of collective action problems and the degree of strategic behaviour results in
distinct patterns of mobilization across these two types of groups that have
been overlooked in previous literature. We explore variation in organized and
unorganized political mobilization and violence at elections using new event
data for over one hundred cities in the developing world from 1960 to 2014. We
find that organized groups are more likely to mobilize before elections to
influence their outcome, and under permissive opportunity structures at
moderate levels of democracy. Mobilization by unorganized individuals occurs at
and directly after elections but does not vary by regime type. Distinct
mobilization patterns across group type are a major addition to our understanding
of the link between elections, democracy, contention and violence.
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