Research Political Sciences

Antiterrorism and Electoral Campaigns

, by Claudio Todesco
How do politicians, right and left, behave when dealing with the terrorist threat? This is explained by a paper by Livio Di Lonardo

Voters can evaluate the incumbents' performances and reward or punish them accordingly in the voting booth. This is one of the fundamental features of a democratic system, but it can create distortions and inefficiencies in counterterrorism.

Livio Di Lonardo, Assistant Professor at the Department of Social and Political Sciences, tackled with the issue in The Partisan Politics of Counterterrorism: Reputations, Policy Transparency, and Electoral Outcomes (Political Science Research and Methods, 2017) and in the working paper with Tiberiu Dragu Issue Salience and Policy Congruence in Counterterrorism.

Right-wing and left-wing politicians have different reputations. The former are believed to respond to terror threats more aggressively than the latter. "Politicians try to appear bias-free. Left-wing incumbents, who want to convince voters that they are able to resolutely deal with a severe terror threat, end up adopting more aggressive policies than their right-wing counterparts".

Di Lonardo also took into account the competence of politicians in the fight against terrorism. "Some normative literature says that we should not be concerned about the concentration of power in the aftermath of an attack". According to this idea, the informal role of control and balance is embodied by voters who, in an emergency context, pays greater attention to the government's performance in both the curtailment of liberties and terrorism prevention. "We show that, due to their desire to be re-elected, politicians want to show themselves competent in the fight against terrorism by avoiding new attacks. To prevent them, they implement more aggressive counter-terrorism measures than those that would be optimal for voters".

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