Are Voters Sensitive to Terrorism? Direct Evidence from the Israeli Electorate
45 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2007 Last revised: 26 Oct 2007
Date Written: October 2007
This paper relies on the variation of terror attacks across time and space as an instrument to identify the causal effects of terrorism on the preferences of the Israeli electorate. We find that the occurrence of a terror attack within three months of the elections is associated with a 1.35 percentage points increase on the local support for the right bloc of political parties out of the two blocs vote. This effect is of a significant political magnitude given the level of terrorism in Israel and the fact that its electorate is closely split between the right and left blocs. Moreover, a terror fatality has important electoral effects beyond the locality where the attack is perpetrated, and its electoral impact is stronger the closer to the elections it occurs. Interestingly, in left-leaning localities, local terror fatalities cause an increase in the support for the right bloc whereas total terror fatalities increase the support for the left bloc of parties. Given that only a small number of localities suffer terror attacks we obtain that terrorism causes the ideological polarization of the electorate. These results provide strong empirical support for the hypothesis that the electorate shows a highly sensitive reaction to terrorism.
Keywords: Terrorism, Democracy, Voters' Preferences
JEL Classification: D7, N4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation