Social cohesion, peace and local elections in Nepal


  • Anna Berg (Development Studies)
  • Tim Kornprobst (Social Science)
  • Alexandra Leibbrandt (Political Science)
  • Philipp Liegmann (Political Science)
  • Dorothea Drees (Economy)
  • Maleen Riebsamen (Development Studies)

Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

2020 - 2021 / Abgeschlossen


Whether and how democracy can sustainably strengthen the chances for peace is a crucial research topic with direct relevance for development policy. There are arguments and empirical evidence suggesting that democratic institutions can strengthen peace, but also others, that democratisation can lead to new tensions in post-conflict societies. In this debate, the role of the local level has clearly been neglected. Although there is extensive research on the effect of national elections on peace as well as factors that lead to electoral violence, this research almost exclusively focuses on the national level. Many post-conflict states have introduced local elections as part of decentralisation processes, partly with the hope of strengthening peace. Overall, the impact of local elections on peace has barely been studied so far. At the same time, international donors often provide support for decentralisation policies. Their focus, however, is more on the provision of basic services rather than on local elections as a potential instrument for peace.

Nepal provides a unique opportunity to analyse these connections more closely in a current context. The country has experienced a 10-year civil war, which ended in 2006. Local elections were suspended during the civil war and reintroduced only in 2015 with the first local polls conducted in 2017. The project aims to examine the impact of local elections on societal peace and the role of international support in this process. To answer the research question, the project will pursue a mixed-methods approach. For this purpose, a phone survey will be implemented and we will conduct qualitative interviews with experts, stakeholders etc. at national, regional and local level. Our partners in Nepal are the Center for Social Change (focal point Dr. Prakash Bhattarai), Dr. Prabin Kadhka (University of Essex) and the survey firm Survey Solutions.