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Domestic Opposition and Signaling in International Crises

  • Kenneth A. Schultz (a1)

This article explores the effect of domestic political competition on the escalation of international crises. It combines an incomplete information model of crisis bargaining with a simple model of two-party electoral choice. One state has two strategic actors—a government and an opposition party—both of which declare openly whether they support the use of force to alter the status quo. The rival state updates its beliefs and selects its strategy in response to both signals. The parties' payoffs depend upon a retrospective evaluation by the domestic electorate. The model shows that the inclusion of a strategic opposition party decreases the ex ante probability of war by helping to reveal information about the state's preferences. This finding has important implications for research on democracy and international conflict, since it suggests a mechanism through which democratic states can overcome informational asymmetries, which have been identified as a central obstacle to negotiation.

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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
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