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On repression and its effectiveness

Tiberiu Dragu

Journal of Theoretical Politics, 2017, vol. 29, issue 4, 599-622

Abstract: Do electoral incentives to stop a terrorist attack before the next election induce democratic governments to undertake ineffective counterterrorism policies? This article shows that shortsighted electoral motivations are not a sufficient explanation for why governments engage in counterproductive repression when responding to electoral pressures to safeguard security. It develops a game-theoretic model to show that limitations on observability of counterterrorism activities are an important factor for understanding why electoral pressures might induce democratic governments to choose ineffective security policies. The model also allows us to systematically investigate the conditions under which repressive counterterrorism is more likely to aggravate the terrorist threat, and has empirical and policy implications regarding the relationship between repression and its (in)effectiveness when democratic societies strive to counter the threat of terrorism.

Keywords: Counterterrorism; electoral incentives; overreaction; repression; terrorism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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