Sore Losers: Does Terrorism and Approval of Terrorism Increase in Democracies When Election Losers Refuse to Accept Election Results?

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Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1201-1215
Number of pages15
JournalPolitical Research Quarterly
Volume75
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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