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Civil conflict and voting behavior: Evidence from Colombia


  • Jorge Gallego


What are the effects of war on political behavior? Colombia is an interesting case in which conflict and elections coexist, and illegal armed groups intentionally affect electoral outcomes. Nonetheless, groups have used different strategies to alter these results. This paper argues that differential effects of violence on electoral outcomes are the result of deliberate strategies followed by illegal groups, which in turn result from military conditions that differ between them. Using panel data from Senate elections from 1994 to 2006 and an instrumental variables approach to address potential endogeneity concerns, this paper shows that guerrilla violence decreases turnout, while paramilitary violence has no effect on participation, but reduces electoral competition and benefits non-traditional third parties. FARC violence is significantly higher during election years, while paramilitary violence is lower. This is consistent with the hypothesis that the guerrillas’ strategy is to sabotage elections, while paramilitaries establish alliances with certain candidates.

Suggested Citation

  • Jorge Gallego, 2018. "Civil conflict and voting behavior: Evidence from Colombia," Conflict Management and Peace Science, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 35(6), pages 601-621, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:compsc:v:35:y:2018:i:6:p:601-621
    DOI: 10.1177/0738894218788362

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Fontana, Nicola & Nannicini, Tommaso & Tabellini, Guido, 2023. "Historical roots of political extremism: The effects of Nazi occupation of Italy," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 723-743.
    2. Iván Higuera-Mendieta, 2017. "Control armado y comportamiento electoral: Un cuasi-experimento en el Caguán," Documentos de Trabajo Sobre Economía Regional y Urbana 15623, Banco de la República, Economía Regional.
    3. Jorge Gallego, 2015. "Natural Disasters and Clientelism: the Case of Floods and Landslides in Colombia," Documentos de Trabajo 12537, Universidad del Rosario.
    4. Thomas Bassetti & Raul Caruso & Darwin Cortés, 2015. "Behavioral differences in violence: The case of intra-group differences of Paramilitaries and Guerrillas in Colombia," Documentos de Trabajo 13823, Universidad del Rosario.
    5. Diego Esparza & Valerie Martinez & Regina Branton & Kimi King & James Meernik, 2020. "Violence, Trust, and Public Support for the Colombian Peace Agreement," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1236-1254, July.
    6. Fernandez-Navia, Tania & Polo-Muro, Eduardo & Tercero-Lucas, David, 2021. "Too afraid to vote? The effects of COVID-19 on voting behaviour," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 69(C).
    7. Leonardo Bonilla-Mejía & Iván Higuera-Mendieta, 2018. "Notas sobre la economía política del Caribe colombiano," Revista Economía y Región, Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar, vol. 12(2), pages 7-41, December.
    8. Sandra Ley, 2018. "To Vote or Not to Vote," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 62(9), pages 1963-1990, October.
    9. Morales, Juan S., 2021. "Legislating during war: Conflict and politics in Colombia," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 193(C).

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