The effect of wartime legacies on electoral mobilization after civil war

Felix Haass, Martin Ottmann

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Elections are cornerstones for societies transitioning from civil war to democracy. The success or failure of these elections is shaped by the strategies former rebels employ to mobilize voters. Of those strategies, clientelism is particularly important as it represents improved voter-elite relations over dysfunctional wartime politics, but, if pervasive, also risks undermining long-term democratic consolidation. We argue that the organizational legacies of rebellion shape the way how rebels engage in electoral clientelism. We expect that former rebels target pre-electoral benefits to areas of wartime support; rely on wartime military networks to deliver those benefits; and exploit discretionary control over peace dividends when allocating electoral benefits. We combine original geospatial data on the timing and location of over 2,000 tsunami aid projects with village-level surveys in post-civil war Aceh, Indonesia, to test these hypotheses. Results from difference-in-differences models and detailed tests of causal mechanisms are consistent with our theoretical expectations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1322-1336
JournalThe Journal of Politics
Issue number3
Early online date18 Jan 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jan 2022


  • Aid
  • Clientelism
  • Electoral Mobilization
  • Post-Conflict Democracy
  • Reconstruction


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