A necessary component of peaceful democratic rule is the willingness of election losers to accept election defeats. When politicians and parties acknowledge defeat in democratic elections, they reinforce the peaceful transition of power that sustains political order. When election losers in democracies reject election results, the public’s confidence in democratic institutions is weakened, grievances and polarization abound, and the potential for violent mobilization grows. In this environment, terrorist activity is more likely. I test this proposition using cross-national time series panel data and within-country public opinion data for a wide set of democracies. I find that democracies experience significantly more domestic terrorist casualties when election losers reject election results. Moreover, I find that public willingness to tolerate and justify terrorism as a tactic increases in democratic countries where election losers reject election results.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science