Democracy and Terrorism: Re-examining a Causal Link
Christian, John T
This paper examines the relationship between level of democracy and the strength of a government in a country and terrorist activity, evaluated by the presence of terrorist organizations operating out of that country, the occurrence of terrorist attacks in that country and the number of terrorist attacks planned in that country. Additionally, it examined the reach of an organization and whether reach is correlated with the governance in a country. Reach in this instance will be considered the distance between terrorist organizations' bases of operation and the location of an attack perpetrated by that organization. Several studies have evaluated different aspects of governance and democracy in particular, searching to discover a tangible link explaining what characteristics make a state or environment ripe for terrorist organizations and terrorist attacks. Arguments have been made on both sides; democracy both promotes and discourages terrorism. Using Ordinary Least Square, Fixed Effects and Negative Binomial Regressions, the research examined the relationship between government and terrorism using domestic and international terrorism data. Political competition and voter participation were the independent variables used to operationalize governance and terrorism was evaluated through three different measures. This analysis found political competition and voter participation both have a statistically significant, negative correlation with the prevalence of terrorist attacks in country but competing influences on the number of terrorist organizations active within a country. This analysis did not find statistically significant correlations between governance and the reach of terrorist organizations.
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