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Democratic Peace and Electoral Accountability

Paola Conconi (), Nicolas Sahuguet () and Maurizio Zanardi ()

No 2008-015, Working Papers ECARES from ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles

Abstract: One of the few stylized facts in international relations is that democracies, unlike autoc- racies, very rarely fight each other. We examine the sustainability of international peace between democracies and autocracies, where the crucial difference between these two po- litical regimes is whether or not policymakers are subject to periodic elections. We show that the fear of losing office can deter democratic leaders from engaging in military con- flicts. Crucially, this discipline effect can only be at work if incumbent leaders can be re-elected, implying that democracies in which the executives are subject to term limits should be more conflict prone. To assess the validity of our predictions, we construct a large dataset on countries with executive term limits. Our analysis of inter-state conflicts for the 1816-2001 period suggests that electoral incentives are indeed behind the democratic peace phenomenon: while democratic dyads are in general less likely to be involved in conflicts than any other dyads, this result does not hold for democracies in which the executive faces binding term limits; moreover, the dispute patterns of democracies with term limits depend on whether the executive is in the last or penultimate mandate.

Keywords: Democratic Peace; Elections; Term Limits (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C72 D72 F00 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2008-07
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Related works:
Journal Article: DEMOCRATIC PEACE AND ELECTORAL ACCOUNTABILITY (2014) Downloads
Working Paper: Democratic Peace and Electoral Accountability (2014) Downloads
Working Paper: Democratic Peace and Electoral Accountability (2009) Downloads
Working Paper: Democratic Peace and Electoral Accountability¤ (2008) Downloads
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