Candidates and Combatants: Why Do Simultaneous Electoral and Armed Campaigns Occur?
Posted: 18 Jan 2018
Date Written: November 16, 2017
Why do militant groups decide to simultaneously pursue an armed campaign and an electoral campaign? And, perhaps more perplexingly, why do governments allow them to do so? Almost none of the existing literature addresses either the militant group decision to participate in elections while still using violence or the government decision to allow it to do so. This paper, then, attempts to address this gap. We identify important empirical patterns concerning simultaneous armed and electoral campaigns using new quantitative data that identifies all instances of militant group electoral participation between 1970 and 2010 (Matanock 2016). We then develop a formal signaling model that centers on electoral participation as a costly signal of social support for militant groups. We show that under certain conditions the electoral information revealed to the government about a militant group's strength outweighs the cost of holding that election and helps the government to determine its future strategy in cracking down on the group. In this case, the government is willing to allow electoral participation for actively fighting militant groups rather than banning them. In order to test the theory, we focus on process tracing a well-known case in which new evidence has recently been revealed, Northern Ireland.
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