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Terrorism Prevention and Electoral Accountability

  • Tiberiu Dragu
  • Mattias Polborn

How does electoral accountability affect the effectiveness of terrorism prevention in a democ- racy? We analyze the connection between electoral accountability and policy effectiveness in the context of terrorism prevention. We develop a formal model of an interaction between a government, a minority community, and a representative voter. All actors share the objective of terrorism prevention and have symmetric information. We show that electoral pressures to be successful in terrorism prevention create a commitment problem for the government and this can lead to less security. If the representative voter cares more about terrorism prevention, the government intensifies anti-terrorism activities that are under its direct control, but cooperation by the minority community weakens, and, as a result, security may decrease. We also show that commitment to ex-post suboptimal anti-terrorism activity is desirable for the government, but such commitment is difficult to achieve without explicit institutional constraints such as an effective judicial review on government’s antiterrorism actions.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2864.

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Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2864
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  1. Matthias Messner & Mattias K. Polborn, 2004. "Voting on Majority Rules," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(1), pages 115-132, 01.
  2. Kyle Bagwell, 1992. "Commitment and Observability in Games," Discussion Papers 1014, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  3. Alberto Abadie, 2006. "Poverty, Political Freedom, and the Roots of Terrorism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 50-56, May.
  4. Timothy Besley, 2005. "Political Selection," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 43-60, Summer.
  5. de Mesquita, Ethan Bueno, 2005. "Conciliation, Counterterrorism, and Patterns of Terrorist Violence," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(01), pages 145-176, January.
  6. Gassebner, Martin & Jong-A-Pin, Richard & Mierau, Jochen O., 2008. "Terrorism and electoral accountability: One strike, you're out!," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 100(1), pages 126-129, July.
  7. Bueno de Mesquita, Ethan, 2007. "Politics and the Suboptimal Provision of Counterterror," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(01), pages 9-36, January.
  8. Todd Sandler & Kevin Siqueira, 2006. "Global terrorism: deterrence versus pre-emption," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1370-1387, November.
  9. repec:oup:qjecon:v:100:y:1985:i:4:p:1169-89 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Blomberg, S. Brock & Hess, Gregory D. & Weerapana, Akila, 2004. "Economic conditions and terrorism," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 463-478, June.
  11. Dal Bo, Ernesto, 2006. "Committees with supermajority voting yield commitment with flexibility," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(4-5), pages 573-599, May.
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