When is Democracy an Equilibrium?: Theory and Evidence from Colombia’s La Violencia
AbstractThe conventional wisdom in political science is that for a democracy to be consolidated, all groups must have a chance to attain power. If they do not then they will subvert democracy and choose to fight for power. In this paper we show that this wisdom is, if not totally incorrect, seriously incomplete. This is so because although the probability of winning an election increases with the size of a group, so does the probability of winning a fight. Thus in a situation where all groups have a high chance of winning an election, they may also have a high chance of winning a fight. Indeed, in a natural model, we show that democracy may never be consolidated in such a situation. Rather, democracy may only be stable when one group is dominant. We provide a test of a key aspect of our model using data from La Violencia, a political conflict in Colombia during the years 1946-1950 between the Liberal and Conservative parties. Consistent with our results, and contrary to the conventional wisdom, we show that fighting between the parties was more intense in municipalities where the support of the parties was more evenly balanced.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Households in Conflict Network in its series HiCN Working Papers with number 21.
Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2006
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Other versions of this item:
- Mario Chacón & James A. Robinson & Ragnar Torvik, 2011. "When is Democracy an Equilibrium? Theory and Evidence from Colombia's La Violencia," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 55(3), pages 366-396, June.
- Mario Chacon & James A. Robinson & Ragnar Torvik, 2006. "When is Democracy an Equilibrium?: Theory and Evidence from Colombia's "La Violencia"," NBER Working Papers 12789, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Ragnar Torvik & James A. Robinson & Mario Chacón, 2006. "When is Democracy an Equilibrium?: Theory and Evidence from Colombia's La Violencia," Working Paper Series 7106, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
- Chacón, Mario & Robinson, James A & Torvik, Ragnar, 2006. "When is Democracy an Equilibrium? Theory and Evidence from Colombia's La Violencia," CEPR Discussion Papers 5679, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2006-12-01 (All new papers)
- NEP-CDM-2006-12-01 (Collective Decision-Making)
- NEP-POL-2006-12-01 (Positive Political Economics)
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