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This study investigates violence related to district and provincial executive elections and national, provincial, and district legislative polls in Indonesia. We focus on the temporal dimensions, fiscal causes, and incumbency effects of election conflict. District head elections have the greatest impact on violence, which commences three months prior to polls at relatively low levels, peaks during election month, and continues at reduced rates for the next three months.
Rising district intergovernmental transfer revenue leads to increased violence, suggesting that expanding opportunities for rent-seeking in office drive conflict. District executive elections in which an incumbent is running are more violent, and growing district transfers exacerbate violence to a larger extent when an incumbent is vying for re-election. This suggests that incumbents’ keen interest in maintaining access to significant fiscal rents makes them more likely to use violence to gain re-election and that their direct access to revenue budgets facilitates the orchestration of violence to manipulate the vote to their advantage.