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I know this is a hot issue these days, but I am trying to keep my question factual here.

When fraud is alleged in an election, I am usually familiar with one of two cases:

  • One or more challengers allege that the incumbent carried out fraud (the assumption being that the incumbent was sufficiently powerful to manipulate the administration of the election); or
  • Both the incumbent and the challengers accuse each other of fraud (while none admits guilt, in such cases, international observers often decry fraud by all sides).

My hypothesis is that for fraud to be so widespread to affect the results of an election, the more powerful party (presumably the incumbent) would be the one who could allow such a situation in their favour. I consider it unlikely that an incumbent who has the executive power over institutions (including election commissions) would sit by and allow such widespread fraud that it would unseat them. They would usually be in the position to prevent such fraud from occurring.

In contrast, I found it rather odd in the 2020 United States election that Donald Trump, the incumbent, strongly alleged fraud by his leading challenger, Joe Biden, whereas the challenger did not accuse the incumbent of any election fraud. I am by no means any kind of expert in history, but as a general reader of the news and some light history, I do not recall having encountered such a scenario. (I am fully aware that in this case, the independent courts in that country uniformly rejected the accusations of fraud, but I am interested in other situations where such a claim has been made, especially so strongly, whether or not the accusations were substantiated.)

When else has this happened, that is, the incumbent accusing a challenger of election fraud whereas the challenger did not make any such accusation against the incumbent? I am mainly looking for national-level elections in any country of the world at any time period (where democracy has been practiced), but lower-level elections would also be welcome.

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    Actually, relatively common occurrence in Latin America. Popular and populist president manages to win, then establishment and "business circles" do anything to topple him. One particular example comes to mind : Salvador Allende. – rs.29 Jan 10 at 21:38
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    This can't really be understood in terms of normal politics, but is a result of the peculiar psychology of Donald Trump. As has been widely reported, he simply can not stand to admit that he loses at anything. (Search for "Trump cheats at golf", for some examples.) Faced with the indisputable (by people occupying conventional reality, at least) fact that he DID lose the election, he resorts to lying about it. – jamesqf Jan 11 at 4:01
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    @rs.29, could you please give a concrete example as an answer? I looked up the Allende case (I assume you mean the very contentious 1970 Chile election) but did not find where fraud was alleged. (I'm not a historian, so I don't know how to search for that kind of thing very well.) So, in your answer, could you please specifically give evidence of the accusations of fraud? – Ochado Jan 11 at 4:46
  • @jamesqf, As I clearly said in the question, I am trying to keep this question strictly factual. So, regardless of any particularities of Donald Trump, my question is asking strictly of any similar situation of incumbent alleging fraud by challenger. I do not expect any "connection" between the present US case and any past historical cases. – Ochado Jan 11 at 9:00
  • Allende of course didn't live till next elections, but interestingly enough he had some sort of impeachment trial against him in Chilean Parliament. Wider pattern of president vs elite is there. If you are really interested in elections, one example that pops into my mind is Daniel Ortega and his loss in 1990. There were a lot of allegations that US used hook&crook to help his opponent Violeta Chamorro, including bribery, voter fraud, vote buying, media capaign, economic sabotage etc ... – rs.29 Jan 11 at 18:40
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Wikipedia has a list of annulled elections and the 1993 election in Nigeria seems to fit your question reasonably well.

Another example seems to be Myanmar in 1990.

Afghanistan actually has a repeating pattern of Pashtu und Farsi-speaking politicians forming a government of national unity,then accusing each other of fraud after the next election, then forming another government of national unity. Not sure if this counts.

I originally had mentioned Mongolia, which had a national unity government from 2004 to 2006 or 2007 and again after 2008, with allegations of fraud after the 2008 election. However, there is no real way to call those who made the allegations in 2008 "incumbents". (FWIW, I think widespread election fraud would be considerably harder to pull off in Mongolia than in Afghanistan, because Afghanistan has much deeper political and ethnic differences between regions.)

I had suspected that election fraud was also cited in the decision to call off the second round of the Algerian parliamentary elections in 1992, but I did not manage to find any specifics. Maybe someone else will be more successful. I would expect that election irregularities are a common pretext in such scenarios (as in the Myanmar one cited above), but it is somewhat hard to track down the specific justifications and pretexts in each case (also as in the Burma example cited above).

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