Of the four elections scheduled for this month, Somalia’s has the highest risk of violence although it is unlikely the election will be held as scheduled.
The ELection VIolence (ELVI) dataset can be downloaded from our GitHub repository and monthly updates are released on the first Tuesday of each new month.
Election event data is subject to change as election dates are delayed, clarified and set in place in many countries.
Data and algorithm updates:
- Fixed election announcement and date for Kosovo snap election.
- Added new successful coup event in the following countries: Myanmar (February 2021)
- Regime type changes for the following countries: Myanmar (to military junta), Kyrgyz Republic (to presidential)
- Nicaragua’s regime type has retroactively been changed to party-personal starting in December 2020. This was done in light of new legislation that gives the presidency unilateral power to ban/disqualify parties and individuals from elections.
Risk forecast for February 2021:
Of the elections scheduled this month, Somalia’s and Niger’s are the only ones with an estimated risk greater than 50% while Ecuador and El Salvador both have estimated risk of less than 10%. Somalia, however, appears unlikely to hold their presidential election by February 8 as the president is elected indirectly by the legislature and no new legislature was elected before the most recent term expired.
The delay to elections has been principally driven by a lack of agreement on electoral procedures between the central government and leadership of federal states. The current president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, has convened an emergency meeting between himself and leadership of federal states in order to chart a path forward while the United Nations has pushed for both parties to accept the previously agreed upon September 2020 framework for electoral procedures.
Although Somalia does not have a large number of historical violent elections, its most recent election in 2016 was violent while high levels of general political violence are likely contributing to the country’s high estimated risk of election violence.
Meanwhile, Niger is heading into the second round of its presidential elections towards the end of the month which will mark the first democratic transfer of power in the country’s history.
The first round of elections, held on December 27, 2020, were marked by violent attacks by jihadist groups that have continued throughout January. Niger is one of several countries in West Africa that have been suffering increased levels of jihadist violence, while Niger’s neighbor Burkina Faso held elections under similarly violent conditions in November 2020 which prevented large sections of the country from participating in the elections.
Moreover, the jihadist violence is interwoven into local disputes, making it particularly entrenched. As such, it would seem likely that such violence will continue in the lead up to the runoff elections and remain a central issue for whichever candidate prevails on election day.
Turning briefly to Laos, the country is notable for the fact that it recently selected a new Secretary General, Thongloun Sisoulith, ahead of National Assembly elections this month. Sisoulith will face significant economic challenges, particularly the risk of the country defaulting on its growing debt.
Turning to the rest of 2021, Chad retains its spot as the country most at risk of election violence. Notably, Chad is part of the group of countries across the Sahel that have been experiencing high levels of jihadist violence that have displaced over 2 million people, according to the United Nations.