Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

There Can Be No Compromise: Institutional Inclusiveness, Fractionalization and Domestic Terrorism


Research on terrorism in democracies borrows from the literature on civil war and rebellion to argue that more proportional representation decreases the likelihood of terrorist violence. However, theories of broader social mobilization may be ill-suited to predicting the occurrence of terrorism. This article proposes that proportionalism's institutionalization of small minority groups as legitimate but relatively insignificant political actors leads to militancy. Analyses of the Global Terrorism Database on domestic terrorist attacks across all democracies in 1975–2007 provide broad support for this argument. The presence and greater degrees of proportionalism are significantly associated with greater levels of domestic terrorism when ethnic fractionalization within a given society increases. Moreover, domestic terrorism increases as the number of small parties represented in the legislature increases.

Hide All

Department of International Studies and Political Science, Virginia Military Institute (email:; Department of Political Science, University College London; Department of Political Science, Louisiana State University, respectively. Previous versions of this article were presented at the International Studies Association Annual Conventions, Montreal, 2011, and San Diego, 2012. Support for this research was provided by a Grant-in-Aid of Research from the Virginia Military Institute. For their insightful and valuable comments, the authors would like to thank Kristian Gleditsch and numerous anonymous reviewers at BJPS, Erica Chenoweth and Howard Sanborn. Replication data can be found at

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

William Eubank and Leonard Weinberg , ‘Terrorism and Democracy: Perpetrators and Victims’, Terrorism and Political Violence, 13 (2001), 155–64.

Joseph Eyerman , ‘Terrorism and Democratic States: Soft Targets or Accessible Systems?’ International Interactions, 24 (1998), 151–70.

Martha Crenshaw , ‘The Causes of Terrorism’, Comparative Politics, 13 (1981), 379–99.

Alex P. Schmid , ‘Terrorism and Democracy’, Terrorism and Political Violence, 4 (1992), 1425.

Jeffrey Ian Ross , ‘Structural Causes of Oppositional Political Terrorism: Towards a Causal Model’, Journal of Peace Research, 30 (1993), 317–29.

Walter Enders and Todd Sandler , The Political Economy of Terrorism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005)

Marta Reynal-Querol , ‘Political Systems, Stability, and Civil Wars’, Defence and Peace Economics, 13 (2002), 465–83.

Quan Li , ‘Does Democracy Promote or Reduce Transnational Terrorism?’ Journal of Conflict Resolution, 49 (2005), 278–97.

William R. Clark and Matt Golder , ‘Rehabilitating Duverger's Theory: Testing the Mechanical and Strategic Modifying Effects of Electoral Laws’, Comparative Political Studies, 39 (2006), 679708.

Indridi H. Indridason , ‘Proportional Representation, Majoritarian Legislatures, and Coalitional Voting’, American Journal of Political Science, 55 (2011), 954–70.

Robert A. Pape , Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism (New York: Random House, 2005)

J. Bowyer Bell , On Revolt: Strategies of National Liberation (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1976)

Lawrence C. Hamilton and James D. Hamilton , ‘Dynamics of Terrorism’, International Studies Quarterly, 27 (1983), 3954.

Walter Enders Todd Sandler and Khusrav Gaibulloev , ‘Domestic versus Transnational Terrorism: Data, Decomposition, and Dynamics’, Journal of Peace Research, 48 (2011), 319–37.

Zeev Maoz , ‘Evaluating Israel's Strategy of Low-Intensity Conflict, 1949–2006’, Security Studies, 16 (2007), 319–49.

Christopher Zorn , ‘Generalized Estimating Equation Models for Correlated Data: A Review with Applications’, American Journal of Political Science, 45 (2001), 470–90.

Thorsten Beck , Geoff Clarke , Alberto Groff , Philip Keefer , and Patrick Walsh , ‘New Tools in Comparative Political Economy: The Database of Political Institutions’, World Bank Economic Review, 15 (2001), 165–76.

Walter Enders and Todd Sandler , ‘Transnational Terrorism in the Post-Cold War Era’, International Studies Quarterly, 43 (1999), 145–67.

Meredith R. Sarkees and Frank Wayman , Resort to War, 1816–2007 (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2010).

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Foster Supplementary Material

 Unknown (179 KB)
179 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 56 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 264 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th July 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.