Bullets and Votes: Public Opinion and Terrorist Strategies
There is an increasing number of analyses of the effects of terrorism, especially its impact on public opinion. Most of these analyses are focused on the effects of terrorist strategies and attacks on public opinion in general. This article analyzes an important but usually neglected question in this literature: the effects of terrorist strategies on the vote for parties that support the terrorist organization. It uses data referred to the case of the Basque terrorist group ETA and its attached political movement. ETA is one of the most enduring terrorist groups in the world, and during the last three decades, its strategy has combined violence with the convening of truces. The article shows how terrorist strategies, especially the convening of truces and negotiating with the government, significantly increase public support for the terrorist organization. Once the terrorist group has declared a truce and negotiations with the government are under way, the terrorists’ constituency has an incentive to increase its mobilization in favour of the terrorist group. With higher levels of support, the terrorist group has a stronger bargaining position, and, therefore, it becomes more likely to attain its demands.
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