Violent Non-State Actors and Politics

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The international community seeks to demilitarize violent non-state actors and transition them into political parties from Afghanistan and Iraq to Colombia and Egypt. Yet, coercive actors vary in their ability to effectively transition from bullets to ballots. Existing theories of armed organizations’ post-war trajectories inadequately address this empirical reality. Policy is built on the assumption that these actors’ transformation into legal political entities will generate greater stability. The implications of divergent trajectories have never been rigorously evaluated. Zukerman Daly proposes an overarching framework to understand why some armed organizations form successful political parties while others do not; and what the effects are of this participation in the electoral arena on security, public order, and the process of state formation. The framework will be evaluated with cross-national data on armed organizations over time and case study evidence on violent non-state actors in Colombia and El Salvador.