On Terrorism and Electoral Outcomes

Theory and Evidence from the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Published In: Journal of Conflict Resolution, v. 50, no. 6, Dec. 2006, p. 899-925

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2006

by Claude Berrebi, Esteban F. Klor

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This article investigates the interaction between terror attacks and electoral outcomes in Israel. The authors analyze a dynamic model of reputation that captures the salient characteristics of this conflict. The equilibrium of the theoretical model generates two precise empirical predictions about the interaction between terrorism and electoral outcomes. First, the relative support for the right-wing party is expected to increase after periods with high levels of terrorism and to decrease after periods of relative calm. Second, the expected level of terrorism is higher when the left-wing party is in office than it is during the term of the right-wing party. The authors test these hypotheses by using a newly created data set on terrorist attacks in Israel between 1990 and 2003. The first hypothesis is strongly supported by data culled from public opinion polls about the Israeli electorate's political preferences. The second theoretical hypothesis is strongly supported by the three Israeli governments to which the theory can be applied that served during the studied time period.

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