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Political Violence and Electoral Democracy in Colombia. Participation and Voting Behavior in Violent Contexts

García, Miguel (2010) Political Violence and Electoral Democracy in Colombia. Participation and Voting Behavior in Violent Contexts. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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As an increasing number of nations developed democracies without being able to eliminate political violence, this study develops a theoretical framework and an empirical test for understanding the impact of violent contexts on electoral participation and vote choices. The general argument is that citizens living in violent contexts tend to adjust their political behavior in accordance to the objectives and ideological orientations proclaimed by the dominant armed actor. More precisely, electoral participation is expected to diminish as armed actors consolidate their control; yet disputed areas will suffer the biggest participation decline. This study also claims that citizens will be more likely to be supportive of candidates, and parties backed by the dominant armed actor. Finally, the effects of violent contexts on political behavior are not expected to be homogeneous, as minority party sympathizers are the most affected by violent contexts. The theory proposed here is tested at the individual and aggregate levels for the case of Colombia. Therefore, this dissertation deals with two different units of analysis, citizens and municipalities.The individual level analysis suggests that citizens living in contested areas exhibit the lowest probability of participating in elections. Violent contexts also have a tremendous influence on vote intention. Going from areas dominated by left wing insurgents to regions controlled by right wing paramilitaries, citizens are more likely to support a rightist presidential candidate. Lastly, sympathizers of minority parties are the most affected by violent contexts. The municipal analysis shows that there is a significant reduction in turnout as armed actors increase their control. Electoral results are also affected by changes in violent contexts. As municipalities go from being under guerrilla influence to paramilitary control, local governments lean to the right. Finally, in municipalities governed by a leftist mayor the consolidation of paramilitaries produced the biggest reduction in turnout and local governments suffer the biggest movement towards the right. In general, results indicate that political violence is an effective tool to model political behavior, as armed actors employ violence to shape individuals' political behavior by altering the expected value of certain political actions.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairAmes, Barrybarrya@pitt.eduBARRYA
Committee MemberHoskin,
Committee MemberMorgenstern, Scottsmorgens@pitt.eduSMORGENS
Committee MemberFinkel, Stevenfinkel@pitt.eduFINKEL
Date: 28 January 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 26 August 2009
Approval Date: 28 January 2010
Submission Date: 8 December 2009
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Colombia; Electoral participation; Hierarchical models; Longitudinal analysis; Political behavior; Political violence; Vote intention
Other ID:, etd-12082009-125350
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:09
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:53


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