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The Accountability Effects of Political Institutions and Capitalism on Interstate Conflict

  • Sally Anderson

    (Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA,

  • Mark Souva

    (Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA)

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    Selectorate theory posits that leader accountability increases with the size of the winning coalition. Recent research contends that capitalism also increases leader accountability because leaders are more dependent on the public for revenue in more capitalist economies. The authors argue that extant tests of accountability arguments of interstate conflict initiation and targeting are flawed. Accountability theories of foreign policy expect leaders to selectively initiate disputes based on their probability of winning. Accountability arguments, then, expect a conditional relationship between the accountability mechanism and the balance of power. For example, if capitalism produces peace through accountability, then more capitalist states should be less likely to initiate militarized disputes as their power advantage decreases. The authors find that this is not the case. At the same time, the authors find robust support for selectorate theory’s contention that larger winning coalitions are more selective about using military force. Political institutions induce accountability; capitalism does not.

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    Article provided by Peace Science Society (International) in its journal Journal of Conflict Resolution.

    Volume (Year): 54 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 4 (August)
    Pages: 543-565

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    Handle: RePEc:sae:jocore:v:54:y:2010:i:4:p:543-565
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