Voting as a Credible Threat
We offer a rationale for elections that take place in the shadow of power. Factions unhappy with policy can threaten violence. But when they lack common knowledge about (i) one another's rationality, and (ii) their chances of victory at arms, mutual overconfidence can precipitate civil war. We argue that elections can clarify the likely consequences of violence, and so facilitate peaceful resolution. Our theory is based on the recognition that both voting and fighting are intrinsically correlated actions: individuals who undertake the individually irrational act of voting are unusually prone the individually irrational act of voluntary combat.
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- Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2001.
"Cowards and Heroes: Group Loyalty in the American Civil War,"
NBER Working Papers
8627, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2003. "Cowards And Heroes: Group Loyalty In The American Civil War," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(2), pages 519-548, May.
- Matthew Ellman & Leonard Wantchekon, 2000.
"Electoral Competition Under The Threat Of Political Unrest,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 115(2), pages 499-531, May.
- Matthew Ellman & Leonard Wantchekon, 1999. "Electoral competition under the threat of political unrest," Economics Working Papers 457, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
- James D. Fearon, 2011. "Self-Enforcing Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1661-1708.
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