Three Essays on Political Violence in Post-Apartheid South Africa Restricted; Files Only

Pierson, Patrick (Spring 2022)

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Political violence is a regular part of electoral politics. While this has long been acknowledged in the literature on authoritarian regimes, only recently have scholars begun to devote significant attention to the causes and consequences of violence in democratic politics. The three papers in this dissertation extend this work by drawing on the case of post-\textit{apartheid} South Africa, a country that recently celebrated twenty-five years of democratic rule but for whom political violence remains a regular feature of political life. The first paper presents an original dataset of assassination attempts against local elected officials to explore whether, and to what extent, lethal attacks targeting one's local elected official affects citizens' willingness to participate in electoral politics. In the second paper, the focus shifts from voters to political aspirants, wherein I argue that assassination exposure is likely to exhibit differential effects on male and female candidates, respectively. The results provide support for the hypothesis, indicating that female candidates are less likely to file to run for office in local electoral units that experienced an assassination attempt against the incumbent. The third paper follows the traditional focus in the literature on political violence in authoritarian politics with an emphasis on state-perpetrated violence. In particular, I turn to the Marikana massacre --- the deadliest episode of state violence in South Africa since the infamous killings at Sharpeville fifty-two years prior --- to examine the downstream effects of salient episodes of state violence for police use of force. Each of the three papers contributes to the literature on political violence in its own unique way. The first and second papers present the most comprehensive dataset of political assassinations in sub-Saharan Africa to date, while also extending the literature on political behavior under the specter of violence. The second paper in particular contributes to an emerging body of comparative research on gendered political behavior in Africa. The third paper compliments a wave of new work on state use of force with new data and evidence from the majority world, a context that has received much less attention in the literature to date.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

1.1 Political Violence in Democratic Regimes

1.2 Overview of the Dissertation

2 Political Assassinations and Voter Behavior: Evidence from South Africa

2.1 Introduction

2.2 Empirical Setting: South Africa

2.3 Data and Research Design

2.4 Empirical Strategy

2.5 Conclusion

3 Electoral Office-Seeking Under the Specter of Violence

3.1 Introduction

3.2 Literature Review and Theory

3.3 Research Design

3.4 Estimation Strategy & Results

3.5 Discussion and Conclusion

4 State Violence and Police Reform: A Case Study of the Marikana Massacre

4.1 Introduction

4.2 State Violence and Police Reform

4.3 Empirical Setting: South Africa and the Marikana Massacre

4.4 Data, Research Design, and Results


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