Coercion and Politics: Postwar Governance by Actors with Violent Pasts

Faculty Research Grant
Grant Year

This project seeks to explain 1) who governs postwar environments; and 2) how civil war successor parties govern. A surprising feature of contexts transitioning from civil war is the large number of citizens who vote for political parties with deep roots in the violent organizations of the past. However, these parties’ success varies dramatically. While some perpetuate authoritarian politics, others become reformed and contribute to peace and democracy. A major advance would come from theory building about political life after war. This project’s working theory argues that, in the aftermath of civil war, electoral success follows from the distribution of military power, which determines who writes the political institutions governing political life after war and influences the distribution of voters, and specifically the extent of swing voters. To build a theory of post war politics, this project proposes a mixed methods approach and analyzes original cross-national, sub-national, and individual level datasets and engages in qualitative case studies.