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Democratic Peace and Electoral Accountability

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  • Paola Conconi
  • Nicolas Sahuguet
  • Maurizio Zanardi

Abstract

One of the few stylized facts in international relations is that democracies, unlike autocracies, very rarely fight each other. We examine the sustainability of international peace between democracies and autocracies, where the crucial difference between these two political regimes is whether or not policymakers are subject to periodic elections. We show that the fear of losing office can deter democratic leaders from engaging in military conflicts. Crucially, this discipline effect can only be at work if incumbent leaders can be re-elected, implying that democracies in which the executives are subject to term limits should be more conflict prone. To assess the validity of our predictions, we construct a large dataset on countries with executive term limits. Our analysis of inter-state conflicts for the 1816-2001 period suggests that electoral incentives are indeed behind the democratic peace phenomenon: while democratic dyads are in general less likely to be involved in conflicts than any other dyads, this result does not hold for democracies in which the executive faces binding term limits; moreover, the dispute patterns of democracies with term limits depend on whether the executive is in the last or penultimate mandate.

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Paper provided by www.najecon.org in its series NajEcon Working Paper Reviews with number 814577000000000388.

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Date of creation: 21 Nov 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cla:najeco:814577000000000388

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  10. Robert W. Staiger & Kyle Bagwell, 1999. "An Economic Theory of GATT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 215-248, March.
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  1. Limite dei mandati. Costi e benefici
    by iMille in iMille on 2011-11-14 11:33:25
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Cited by:
  1. Rota, Mauro, 2011. "Military Burden and the Democracy Puzzle," MPRA Paper 35254, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Francesco Caselli & Massimo Morelli & Dominic Rohner, 2013. "The Geography of Inter-State Resource Wars," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 13.06, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  3. Vincent Vicard, 2008. "Trade, conflicts and political integration : explaining the heterogeneity of regional trade agreements," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne bla08022, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
  4. Michelle R. Garfinkel, 2010. "Political Institutions and War Initiation: The Democratic Peace Hypothesis Revisited," Working Papers 101107, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
  5. Conconi, Paola & Sahuguet, Nicolas, 2009. "Policymakers' horizon and the sustainability of international cooperation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3-4), pages 549-558, April.

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