Guerrillas and Authoritarians




Turner, Jacob. “Guerrillas and Authoritarians: Partners in Post-War Polarization.” In Progress.


Despite a violent and extremist past, some armed rebel movements often abandon their arms and successfully contest power through elections. This paper seeks to understand the environmental factors that determine a post-rebel party’s electoral success. Using first a cross-national analysis of post-rebel party performance and then a subnational analysis of Salvadoran elections from 1994-2019, it is shown that the party’s ability to leverage identities forged during the war and organize its appeals along a highly polarized pro- and anti-government axis is crucial to post-rebel electoral success. This is understood as an organizational capability, the capability to oppose. At the national level, the existence of an authoritarian successor party increases the longevity of such polarization while subnationally levels of violence help to solidify the wartime cleavage as the most important for local politics.


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