TERROR AND THE BALLOT BOXES – Project Syndicate 

 

Raj Persaud and Adrian Furnham have penned this article in Project Syndicate wherein they have tried to explain the connection between ballot boxes I.e elections and terrorism. Manchester bombing and the London Bridge attacks might have visible effects on the general election that are going to be held on 8th of June.

Raj and Adrian feel that usually the terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and Islamic State when ever carry out such attacks the reasons are also related to election outcomes. These terrorist attacks affect the voting behavior of the people. Though economy related issues occupy the central position to an election but these terrorist attacks cause an aberration. To support this claim, Raj and Adrian have mentioned and talked about certain reports that have been based on such similar scenarios that have happened in the past.

Firstly the Fear in the Voting Booth: The 2004 Presidential Election, this report was published in 2007 and here in certain statistics related to Presidential Election of USA 2004 have been given. The impact of 9/11/2001 attacks were clearly visible in the Voting behavior of the people. Though some felt the economy was going down and some felt the economy was rather doing well but many were concerned about the security issues which led to Bush becoming the President, or else he would have also had a career similar to his father who served as a President for a single term only. The study says that 42% people felt terrorism to be the most important issue in the election. 18% singled out economy where as 3% had other prefrences. Leading to Bush win the election against his rival candidate John Kerry who was not only a Massachusetts senator but also a genuine Vietnam War hero.

Raj and Adrian also feel that the way a government responses to such terrorist attacks can also affect the election. They site the example of the terrorist attack that happened in 2004 outside the Madrid Railway station where 196 people were killed and 2,000 suffered injuries. This bombing happened just three days before the elections in Spain. Considered to be the worst attack in Europe since the 1988 bombing, this terrorist attacks led to change in the election outcomes. The government of Partido Popular party at that time lost to the least expected Socialist party because of a following incident to the terrorist attack. The Partido Popular party fist sought to blame the basque separatist organization ETA for the attack instead of Islamic terrorists. When people behind that attacks were arrested and the government on the election eve prayed that the news gets published a day latter due to the newspapers publishing deadlines, but the news broke out that the arrested were Morrocans and Indian. The expected government of PP lost to a great victory of the Socialist party then. Terrorism and Democratic Legitimacy: Conflicting Interpretations of the Spanish Elections by political scientist Ingrid Van Biezen, published in 2005 elaborates on this scenario and was published in Mediterranean Politics.

Moreover, Raj and Adrian also bring up the point that people’s Voting behavior is also changes not only due to terrorist attack but also due to threat of any such attack. Terrorism and Voting: The Effect of Rocket Threat on Voting in Israeli Elections by Thomas Zietzoff and Anna Getmansky, examined the areas on Gaza that were exposed to roket bombing. The share of right wing increased 2-6 percentage points and they could make out that if entire Israel would face these rocket bombing threats then the increase could have been 2-7 percentage points. Their study was published in 2014 American Political Science Review. 

Raj and Adrian conclude by saying that such terrorist attacks would make the people vote for a candidate that is harsh on such enemies. But ut when such candidates come to power, the scope for negotiations narrows and settlement between opposing organizations becomes difficult and the violent side may start using violent tactics which worsen the situation. The terrorist groups have been and are trying to alsways influence the election in countries. Politicians need to tackle such situations very smartly.

Read the article by Raj and Adrian by CLICKING HERE 

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