Faculté de gouvernance
sciences économiques & sociales

Africa Institute for Research
in Economics and Social Sciences


AIRESS Research Seminar ''Understanding Physical Violence in Parliaments''

Home / AIRESS Research Seminar ''Understanding Physical Violence in Parliaments''

Africa Institute for Research in Economics and Social Sciences (AIRESS) organizes a seminar on Thursday, January 19th at 12:30 p.m (GMT+1) at Mohammed VI Polytechnic University - Rabat Campus (A-A0-02), under the theme ''Understanding Physical Violence in Parliaments''.

Our guest speakers for this event are Moritz Schmoll, Assistant Professor of political science at FGSES and Dr. Wang Leung Ting, Professor at the University of Reading, UK.


Why do lawmakers resort to physical violence in some parliaments? Brawls and fistfights not only constitute a stark break with democratic norms and ideals, they also have been shown to affect voter perceptions. Yet, the phenomenon remains poorly understood. In our research project, we first try to explain why violence occurs in some parliaments but not in others. To this end, our first paper introduced a new, original dataset recording reported incidents of physical fights in parliaments across the globe between 1980 and 2018 that includes almost four times more cases of violence than existing data.

Theoretically, we argued that levels of democracy and the composition of parliament should drive violence. The analysis showed that fighting is most common in countries that are neither very autocratic nor very democratic, in fragmented parliaments, and in chambers with slim majorities. But the literature has also hinted at the possibility that parliamentary violence may act as a bellwether for important political phenomena such as democratic backsliding, civil conflict, or voter satisfaction. In a second paper, we therefore try to systematically test the predictive qualities of physical violence in parliaments. We observe that levels of democracy do change in years after violence occurred but that the direction (democratisation vs. backsliding) depends on initial levels of democracy. Furthermore, at this stage we find no significant downstream linkages with neither voter dissatisfaction nor civil conflict. Our findings have implications for the literature on democratic backsliding, conflict, and democratic institutions.