Local government officials and administrators — including governors, mayors, councilors, and other civil servants — frequently come under attack by a wide array of armed actors, from cartels waging turf wars in Mexico to Russian occupying forces in Ukraine (see the ACLED report Administering Violence: An ACLED Special Project on Violence Targeting Local Officials).…
The targeting of local officials in Brazil is more pervasive and deadly at the municipal level in all scenarios, and heightened during local elections. Ongoing investigations on the interference of organized crime in the latest election in the states of Piauí and Rio de Janeiro points to continuous involvement of gangs and militias in the elections. Heading into the 2024 municipal elections, heightened tensions stoked by national politics and the collusive relationship between organized criminal groups and some local authorities are likely to amplify existing party tensions and exacerbate local political rivalries.
The Philippines has historically grappled with a high – and lethal – level of violence targeting local officials. Such violence is heavily concentrated in rural areas, particularly the BARMM, and especially during election periods. However, while the Philippines is home to many conflicts, a large percentage of the violence targeting local officials occurs outside of such conflicts and can be tied to electoral competition, the proliferation of political dynasties, and the domination of ‘strong families’ who find recourse in violence to secure their interests.
ACLED records violence targeting local officials across Mexico – with events in all 32 states. However, some of the highest levels of violence targeting administrators were recorded in Oaxaca and Chiapas states, where ACLED records have relatively lower levels of events likely related to gang violence – challenging the narrative that political violence in Mexico is a function of organized crime alone. As political competition and power dynamics contribute to widespread violence, particularly around election cycles, the next general elections scheduled for June 2024 are likely to exacerbate tensions.
In the year since Russia launched its full-scale invasion, the number of incidents targeting local officials has spiked – a trend that was particularly pronounced during the first months of the war. Local authorities became targets of the Russian occupation forces due to their role as officials in the Ukrainian administration and at the same time, local authorities considered to be linked to the Russian occupation became the target of groups loyal to the Ukrainian government. As the war wages on, this type of violence shows few signs of abating.
Between 2020 and 2022, violence targeting local officials occurred in 16 out of 27 EU countries. However, three-quarters of all events reported across the region were recorded in Italy, where local officials in the south of the country face the most risk. Approximately 85% of all recorded events in the EU have been committed anonymously – and though largely non-lethal, the persistence of these threats across the EU, and the rise in countries like France and Greece, emphasize that local authorities are very often bearing the brunt of political discontent.
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