Much of the recent research on civil war treats explanations rooted in political and economic grievances with considerable suspicion and claims that there is little empirical evidence of any relationship between ethnicity or inequality and political violence. We argue that common indicators used in previous research fail to capture fundamental aspects of political exclusion and economic inequality that can motivate conflict. Through a statistical analysis of all civil wars since 1960, we show that our theoretically informed indicators of political discrimination and economic marginalization among ethnic groups are powerful predictors of civil war onset. Individual-based inequality indicators, in contrast, display only weak effects. This article in Norwegian is a revised and updated version of earlier work published in English.
This article argues that systematic use of the concept of legitimacy contributes to an understanding of civil war onset. First, legitimacy is defined as the people’s perception of the government as rightfully holding power. Next, a legitimacy index is constructed on the basis of survey data from 49 states. This measurement illustrates that legitimacy captures hitherto neglected motives, which deepen the understanding of civil war in cases such as Nigeria and Ukraine and peace in states like Jordan and Ghana.
The article discusses two competing understandings of the relationship between ethnic group identities and civil war. The first one stresses the differences between ethnic group identities and proposes that religious and racial boundaries are particularly conflict-prone. According to the other understanding, ethnic groups generally have dense social networks, and their incentives and opportunities for fighting are associated with their political status and resources rather than their specific identity types. The article finds no statistical evidence that the probability of civil war onset is affected by whether ethnic groups primarily are mobilized around religious, linguistic, racial, or regional boundaries. The analysis thus suggests that different ethnic group identities are alike in terms of conflict escalation.
The democratic civil peace hypothesis has generated considerable debate in conflict research. This debate has centered on three general claims: democracies have lower risk of civil conflict; autocracies have as low a risk of civil conflict as democracies; and hybrid regimes have the highest risk of civil conflict. This study reassesses the relationship between regime type and civil conflict by employing the newly constructed Lexical Index of Electoral Democracy (LIED). This measure enables us both to distinguish between levels of electoral democracy and distinct regime types. In contrasts to previous studies, our global statistical analysis shows that hybrid regimes do not have the highest risk of civil conflict. Rather, full autocracies are the most conflict prone, while full electoral democracies are least likely to experience civil conflict.
In the literature on post-conflict elections it is commonly found that armed groups that obtain an insufficient number of votes often resume conflict. It is unclear, however, why this situation arises: Why do voters not always vote for threatening candidates and avoid conflict? The articles provides a theoretical answer to this question. In a one-shot game, voters choose between a civilian and a “warlord” who will engage in violence against them in inverse proportion to the number of votes he or she receives. The model shows that if voters individually obtain expressive utility from voting for the civilian, they will all end up doing so even if they prefer that the warlord is elected and violence is ended. In equilibrium, the maximum amount of violence occurs.
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