Call for papers

Current call for papers


Sore losers in democracy: 

denial of defeat and post-electoral crises

Trump's reluctance to concede defeat in the 2020 US presidential election, his supporters' assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, as well as the attack of former president Bolsonaro's supporters on the federal government buildings in January 2023, all raise questions about the rejection of alternation, the political and legal contestation of electoral results and the different types of crises that may ensue.

Through the notion of “sore loser”, this second issue of Nomopolis aims to examine the modalities and stakes of these sequences in which candidates, parties or voters break with the normal and peaceful functioning of liberal democracy. This can be done using the concept of “contested” or “disputed elections”, characterised by “contests involving major challenges, with different degrees of severity, to the legitimacy of electoral actors, procedures, or outcomes” (Norris, Franck and Martinez i Coma, 2015).

Several areas of analysis can therefore be addressed.

  1. The first area might concerns the explanatory factors for post-electoral contestation. For example, one could examine the link between the longevity of democratic institutions and the consent to defeat (Anderson and Mendes, 2006). Similarly, the nature of the result (especially if it is close, or even unexpected) may contribute to its rejection (Mongrain, 2023). More broadly, reasoning in terms of “winner-loser gap” could be enlightening (Nadeau, Daoust and Dassonneville 2023): the lack of regularity in alternation, of prospects for coalitions (in non-consensualist systems) or of “fallback” mandates (at local level), as well as the absence of opposition rights, are all elements likely to maximise dissatisfaction with defeat (Gandrud, 2012)
  1. Un second angle interrogera les répertoires de contestation. Il s’agit d’explorer la palette des modalités de rejet des résultats électoraux (Chernykh, 2014) : protestations médiatiques, boycott du deuxième tour, refus de siéger, recours contentieux devant une cour électorale ou constitutionnelle (Erlich, Kerr et Park, 2019 ; Hernandez-Huerta, 2017), appels à des manifestations pacifiques ou à des démonstrations de force, violences et crises institutionnelles, par exemple en cas de tensions sécessionnistes. Il sera intéressant d’examiner ici les caractéristiques sociologiques des contestataires : existe-t-il des « entrepreneurs de contestation » et de recours qui en font le moteur de leur carrière (Gallardo et Louault, 2019) ?
  1. A third area will focus on the legal dimension of this contestation. It will be interesting to examine the different types of appeal before an electoral or constitutional court (Erlich, Kerr and Park, 2019; Hernandez-Huerta, 2017), for example by analyzing the results of these procedures with quantitative data, or by studying the specific function of the judge and his proximity to power. But it will also be relevant to study the use or misuse of electoral rules in order to neutralize the opposition, to authorize a candidacy initially prohibited by the constitution or to prevent a defeat (for example in the cases of Bukele in El Salvador and Sall in Senegal). Here again, the role of the constitutional judge may come under particular scrutiny (as in the case of Kenya's constitutional revision in 2022).
  1. The fourth area will focus on the consequences of these sequences for the democratic system. If elections help to pacify antagonisms (Mouffe, 2013), then it is essential to consider to what extent the refusal to accept defeat goes hand in hand with a re-polarization of the public arena. Moreover, the actions of “sore losers” could fuel mistrust toward the whole electoral system (Hernandez-Huerta and Canu, 2022), or even signal a growing disaffection with democracy (Przeworski, 2009). The specific role of so-called “populist” candidates or parties needs to be examined here in the light of the “cultural backlash” thesis (Ingelhart and Norris, 2019), without overlooking certain nuances, as these political profiles are not systematically “sore losers” (Werner and Jacobs, 2021).


Anderson Christopher J., Mendes Silvia M., « Learning to Lose: Election Outcomes, Democratic Experience and Political Protest Potential », British Journal of Political Science, 36, 1, 2006, 91-111.

Chernykh Svitlana, « When Do Political Parties Protest Election Results? », Comparative Political Studies, 47, 10, 2013, 1359–1383.

Erlich Aaron, Kerr Nicholas, Parka Saewon, « Weaponizing Election Petitions », Annual MPSA Meetings, Chicago, 2019 [en ligne].

Gallardo Myers Alfonso et Louault Frédéric, « La trajectoire contestataire d’Andrés Manuel López Obrador et l’élection présidentielle de 2006 au Mexique », in Pellen Cédric et Louault Frédéric (dir.), La défaite électorale, Rennes, PUR, 2019, 57-71.

Gandrud Christopher, « Two sword lengths apart: Credible commitment problems and physical violence in democratic national legislatures », Journal of Peace Research, 3, 51, 2016, 130-145.

Hernández-Huerta Victor, « Judging Presidential Elections Around the World: An Overview », Election Law Journal, 16, 3, 2017, 377-396.

Hernández-Huerta Victor, Cantu Francisco, « Public Distrust in Disputed Journals Elections: Evidence from Latin America », British Journal of Political Science, 52, 4, 2022, 1923-1930.

Inglehart Ronald, Norris, Pippa (eds), Cultural Backlash : Trump, Brexit, and Authoritarian Populism, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2019.

Mongrain, Philippe, « Suspicious Minds: Unexpected Election Outcomes, Perceived Electoral Integrity and Satisfaction With Democracy in American Presidential Elections », Political Research Quarterly, 2023 [en ligne].

Mouffe Chantal, Agonistics, London, Verso, 2013.

Nadeau Richard, Daoust Jean-François, Dassonneville Ruth, « Winning, Losing, and the Quality of Democracy », Political Studies, 71, 2, 2023, 483–500.

Norris Pippa, Frank Richard W., Martinez i Coma Ferran (eds), Contentious Elections, London, Routledge, 2015.

Przeworski Adam, « Why Do Political Parties Obey Results of Elections? », in Maravall José et Przeworski Adam (eds) Democracy and the Rule of Law, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2003, 114-144.

Werner Hannah, Jacobs Kristof, « Are Populists Sore Losers? Explaining Populist Citizens’ Preferences for and Reactions to Referendums », British Journal of Political Science, 3, 52, 2022, 1409-1417.


The Reading Committee will examine all papers dealing with these issues from the different areas of law and political science. Comparative approaches are particularly encouraged.

  • Deadline for proposal submission (one page):. june 1, 2024 at the following address:
  • Proposals will be evaluated by the Editorial Board which will give a first feedback.
  • Final articles should conform to the submission procedures and be sent before. september 1, 2024
  • Articles can be in English or in French.