L. Heger in Journal of Peace Research
Good Governance, Political Conflict

Votes and violence: Pursuing terrorism while navigating politics

Author(s): Lindsay Heger
Date: December 5, 2014
Publication Type: Journal Article
Keywords:

Overview:

Many of the world’s most infamous terrorist organizations demonstrate clear political aptitude, maintaining highly successful political parties while simultaneously carrying out terrorist attacks. Yet the relationship between terrorism and a group’s political fortune is unclear. Groups like Hamas and Hezbollah appear to have gained significant sup- port as a consequence of certain attacks, most notably those against US and Israeli targets. Other organizations fight for their political life after certain attacks. The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and its political wing, Sinn Fein, scrambled to restore its public image after bombs in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, killed 11 Protestant civilians. In this article Dr. Heger examines the relationship between violence and political participation. Dr. Heger shows that rebel groups are less likely to attack civilians when they simultaneously participate in democratic elections. She argues that attacking civilians is not good for political business. Not only can it distinguish the group as a terrorist organization and alienate supporters as a result, but attacking civilians also imposes high costs on the group’s own civilian support base. For these reasons, civilians frequently withdraw political support for rebel groups after they target civilians, which can be profoundly harmful to rebels. Dr. Heger analyzes the violent and political behavior of non-state violent organizations from the Middle East and North Africa from 1980 to 2004. She also examines the IRA as a means of describing the causal mechanism advanced here.

Key Findings:

This article examines the relationship between violence and political participation, and analyzes violent and political behavior of certain non-state organizations, in particular, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Among the findings:

  • Many terrorist organizations maintain highly successful political parties while carrying out terrorist attacks.
  • The relationship between terrorism and a group's political fortune has been unclear.
  • When rebel groups participate in democratic elections they are less likely to attack civilians.
  • Attacking civilians is not good for political business.

Related Publications

Democracy and Coup d’État

Coup d’État and Democracy

Written by Curtis Bell on February 19, 2016

This article explains coup activity in democracies by adapting insights from the literature on commitment problems and framing coup around the threats leaders and potential coup plotters pose to each other.

Read more
Research Duetting as a Collective Behavior

Duetting as a Collective Behavior

Written by Daniel Brian Krupp on February 5, 2016

Mated birds of many species vocalize together, producing duets. Duetting behavior occurs at two levels of organization: the individual level and the pair level.

Read more
Coups d'Etat and Civil War

When and Why Coups Occur During Civil War

Written by Curtis Bell on January 15, 2016

Coups d’état are frequently both causes and consequences of larger-scale civil wars and rebellions.

Read more
Empirical Trends in Peace

The Century of Peace? Empirical Trends in Peace and Conflict

One Earth Future Written by One Earth Future on November 2, 2015

Is a world without war possible in the 21st century?Trends in armed conflict and a developing body of social scientific research suggest that this idea is plausible.Based on a discussion of high-level experts held in 2014, this report reviews the

Read more
Causes and Outcomes of Coup during Civil War

The Causes and Outcomes of Coup during Civil War

Written by Curtis Bell, Jun Koga Sudduth on October 1, 2015

Though approximately one in four coup attempts takes place during an ongoing civil war, scholars have not yet analyzed how the incidence of civil war affects coup attempts and outcomes.

Read more
Rebels and Service Provision

Negotiating With Rebels: The Effect of Rebel Service Provision on Conflict Negotiations

Written by Lindsay Heger, Danielle F. Jung on September 29, 2015

When rebels provide social services, do they have more leverage negotiating the terms of a peace deal? The literature suggests service-providing groups may, on average, have a wider base of support and a more centralized organizational structure.

Read more
Non-State Actors in Maritime Security Policy Brief

Non-State Actors in Maritime Security

Written by Conor Seyle, Jens Vestergaard Madsen on August 27, 2015

As part of an ongoing lessons-learned project based on Oceans Beyond Piracy’s work with the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, OEF Research is documenting the potential role of non-state actors in maritime security.

Read more
Strengthening Maritime Security

Non-State Actors in Maritime Security

Written by Conor Seyle, Jens Vestergaard Madsen on July 20, 2015

Non-state actors have a strong counter-piracy role for the maritime sector, potentially greater than the role they play in land-based problems.

Read more

Pages