When is democracy an equilibrium? theory and evidence from colombia's la violencia

Mario Chacon, James A. Robinson, Ragnar Torvik

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The conventional wisdom is that for a democracy to be consolidated, all groups must have a chance to attain power. If they do not, then they will subvert democracy and choose to fight for power. In this article, the authors show that this wisdom is seriously incomplete because it considers absolute, not relative payoffs. Although the probability of winning an election increases with the size of a group, so does the probability of winning an armed conflict. Thus, in a situation in which all groups have a high chance of winning an election, they may also have a high chance of winning a fight. Indeed, in a natural model, the authors show that democracy may never be consolidated in such a situation. Rather, democracy may only be stable when one group is dominant. The authors explore this key aspect of the theory using data from La Violencia, a political conflict in Colombia during the years 1946-1950 between the Liberal and Conservative parties. Consistent with their results, and contrary to conventional wisdom, the authors show that fighting between the parties was more intense in municipalities where the support of the parties was more evenly balanced.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)366-396
    Number of pages31
    JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
    Volume55
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jun 1 2011

    Fingerprint

    Colombia
    democracy
    wisdom
    evidence
    Group
    election
    liberal party
    conservative party
    political conflict
    municipality
    Democracy
    Wisdom
    Elections

    Keywords

    • balance of power
    • democratic consolidation
    • partisan conflict
    • polarization

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations

    Cite this

    When is democracy an equilibrium? theory and evidence from colombia's la violencia. / Chacon, Mario; Robinson, James A.; Torvik, Ragnar.

    In: Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 55, No. 3, 01.06.2011, p. 366-396.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Chacon, Mario ; Robinson, James A. ; Torvik, Ragnar. / When is democracy an equilibrium? theory and evidence from colombia's la violencia. In: Journal of Conflict Resolution. 2011 ; Vol. 55, No. 3. pp. 366-396.
    @article{f284f88994ec45df99822598c7a8bb10,
    title = "When is democracy an equilibrium? theory and evidence from colombia's la violencia",
    abstract = "The conventional wisdom is that for a democracy to be consolidated, all groups must have a chance to attain power. If they do not, then they will subvert democracy and choose to fight for power. In this article, the authors show that this wisdom is seriously incomplete because it considers absolute, not relative payoffs. Although the probability of winning an election increases with the size of a group, so does the probability of winning an armed conflict. Thus, in a situation in which all groups have a high chance of winning an election, they may also have a high chance of winning a fight. Indeed, in a natural model, the authors show that democracy may never be consolidated in such a situation. Rather, democracy may only be stable when one group is dominant. The authors explore this key aspect of the theory using data from La Violencia, a political conflict in Colombia during the years 1946-1950 between the Liberal and Conservative parties. Consistent with their results, and contrary to conventional wisdom, the authors show that fighting between the parties was more intense in municipalities where the support of the parties was more evenly balanced.",
    keywords = "balance of power, democratic consolidation, partisan conflict, polarization",
    author = "Mario Chacon and Robinson, {James A.} and Ragnar Torvik",
    year = "2011",
    month = "6",
    day = "1",
    doi = "10.1177/0022002711401871",
    language = "English (US)",
    volume = "55",
    pages = "366--396",
    journal = "Journal of Conflict Resolution",
    issn = "0022-0027",
    publisher = "SAGE Publications Inc.",
    number = "3",

    }

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - When is democracy an equilibrium? theory and evidence from colombia's la violencia

    AU - Chacon, Mario

    AU - Robinson, James A.

    AU - Torvik, Ragnar

    PY - 2011/6/1

    Y1 - 2011/6/1

    N2 - The conventional wisdom is that for a democracy to be consolidated, all groups must have a chance to attain power. If they do not, then they will subvert democracy and choose to fight for power. In this article, the authors show that this wisdom is seriously incomplete because it considers absolute, not relative payoffs. Although the probability of winning an election increases with the size of a group, so does the probability of winning an armed conflict. Thus, in a situation in which all groups have a high chance of winning an election, they may also have a high chance of winning a fight. Indeed, in a natural model, the authors show that democracy may never be consolidated in such a situation. Rather, democracy may only be stable when one group is dominant. The authors explore this key aspect of the theory using data from La Violencia, a political conflict in Colombia during the years 1946-1950 between the Liberal and Conservative parties. Consistent with their results, and contrary to conventional wisdom, the authors show that fighting between the parties was more intense in municipalities where the support of the parties was more evenly balanced.

    AB - The conventional wisdom is that for a democracy to be consolidated, all groups must have a chance to attain power. If they do not, then they will subvert democracy and choose to fight for power. In this article, the authors show that this wisdom is seriously incomplete because it considers absolute, not relative payoffs. Although the probability of winning an election increases with the size of a group, so does the probability of winning an armed conflict. Thus, in a situation in which all groups have a high chance of winning an election, they may also have a high chance of winning a fight. Indeed, in a natural model, the authors show that democracy may never be consolidated in such a situation. Rather, democracy may only be stable when one group is dominant. The authors explore this key aspect of the theory using data from La Violencia, a political conflict in Colombia during the years 1946-1950 between the Liberal and Conservative parties. Consistent with their results, and contrary to conventional wisdom, the authors show that fighting between the parties was more intense in municipalities where the support of the parties was more evenly balanced.

    KW - balance of power

    KW - democratic consolidation

    KW - partisan conflict

    KW - polarization

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=79957880115&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=79957880115&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    U2 - 10.1177/0022002711401871

    DO - 10.1177/0022002711401871

    M3 - Article

    VL - 55

    SP - 366

    EP - 396

    JO - Journal of Conflict Resolution

    JF - Journal of Conflict Resolution

    SN - 0022-0027

    IS - 3

    ER -