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War and the Reelection Motive: Examining the Effect of Term Limits

[journal article]

Zeigler, Sean; Pierskalla, Jan H.; Mazumder, Sandeep

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Please use the following Persistent Identifier (PID) to cite this document:http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-375543

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Abstract This article investigates the relationship between term limits and international conflict. Theories of political survival and diversionary war both imply term limits should play a role in international relations, whereas “permanent referendum theory,” largely motivated by work in American politics, suggests otherwise. Drawing on these theories, we formulate and test competing hypotheses regarding term limits and international crises. Using dyadic militarized interstate disputes data and information on forty-eight democracies with term limits, we uncover strong evidence to support the claim that leaders reaching final terms in office are more likely to initiate conflict than those still subject to reelection. Moreover, we find that the likelihood of conflict initiation is significantly higher during times of recession, but only in the absence of binding term limits. While binding electoral terms and economic downturns are both independently associated with increased levels of conflict initiation, in concert their conditional effects actually counteract each other.
Keywords international conflict; head of state; president; presidential election; domestic policy; power; political leadership; securing of power; international relations
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture; Peace and Conflict Research, International Conflicts, Security Policy
Method empirical
Free Keywords term limits; diversionary war
Document language English
Publication Year 2013
Page/Pages p. 1-27
Journal Journal of Conflict Resolution (2013)
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0022002713478561
ISSN 0022-0027
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications
This publication is with permission of the rights owner freely accessible due to an Alliance licence and a national licence (funded by the DFG, German Research Foundation) respectively.