Democratic skepticism and support for terrorism in the Palestinian Territories

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Research has found that, among other factors, skepticism about democracy and its suitability as a form of government helps to drive public support for violent extremism in the Muslim World. According to scholars, Muslim skeptics of democracy resent it as the product of Western political and cultural intrusion and reflexively support violent extremism as an expression of cultural resistance. Using public opinion data on support for various forms of terrorism among survey respondents in the Palestinian Territories, I find evidence for a more complex explanation. Respondents that support terrorism are indeed more likely to be skeptical of democracy because they regard it to be incompatible with Islam. However, terrorism supporters also reject democratic rule because they associate it with poor economic performance. The results suggest that democratic skepticism is associated with support for terrorism in Muslim societies, but point to both religious-cultural and socioeconomic factors as important components of the relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-443
Number of pages27
JournalPublic Choice
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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