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Democratic Backsliding and Foreign Policy

Benjamin J Appel and Sarah E Croco

Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, Working Paper Series from Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, University of California

Abstract: In this paper, we argue that the consequences of democratic backsliding are not limited to the domestic sphere. Instead, we posit that democratic erosion generates strong incentives for leaders to engage in hostile foreign policy behavior toward other states. We estimate a series of models using event data from 2005–2018 to test our hypothesis. Our results consistently support our argument, even after using estimators that account for potential endogeneity issues. Leaders of backsliding democracies are more likely to behave in an aggressive way toward other countries. Our confidence in these results is strengthened by multiple robustness checks, all of which point to the same conclusion. This paper demonstrates that backsliding states are more likely than full democracies to engage in aggressive actions toward other states, which has important academic and policy implications for understanding the international ramifications of democratic erosion.

Keywords: Social and Behavioral Sciences; democratic backsliding; executive aggrandizement; international conflict (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2024-05-01
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