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, then 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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