The opposition's dilemma: Democratic political competition and war duration
Hanson, Eric M.
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Several studies have demonstrated the capacity for an opposition political party in a democratic state to influence the probability of conflict between their government and a foreign power. If war is seen as a dynamic process, once their country is at war the opposition party may also have electoral incentives to politicize the war. I develop a game theoretic model and evaluate whether an opposition party can influence the duration of war by making the war a political issue at home. The models suggests, under certain circumstances, that opposing the continuation of the war can have the unintended effect of prolonging conflict. In such cases, public legislative opposition may structure incentives in such a way that a negotiated agreement between the democratic government and their foreign rival to end the conflict is delayed, resulting in a longer and more costly war. To analyze the intuition developed by the model, a new dataset of opposition rhetoric was collected. The data was then subjected to a battery of empirical tests, including survival analysis. Partial confirmation for the model's expectations are found in the data. While the results are only partially supportive, this dissertation demonstrates the continued utility of assessing the impact of democratic institutions as they relate to conflict behavior, while offering some useful extensions for future research.