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The Political Impact of Displacement: Wartime IDPs, Religiosity, and Post-War Politics in Bosnia

  • Borjan Zic (a1)

Following armed conflict, why do some members of ethno-religious groups vote for political parties that use religious appeals while others do not? I argue that internal displacement shapes the relationship between conflict and post-war political outcomes. Specifically, individuals who become internally displaced during armed conflict will use their religious faith to cope with the trauma of displacement, thereby strengthening their religiosity. This heightened religiosity then leads them to prefer religiously oriented parties after conflict. Analyzing survey data from Bosnian Muslims, I show that internally displaced respondents were more likely to vote for the religious nationalist Party of Democratic Action nearly a decade after conflict. Employing matching analysis, I then verify that these internally displaced persons became more religious than other respondents compared to before the war. My findings therefore provide evidence that trauma and religiosity combine to shape post-war voting behavior for members of ethno-religious groups.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Borjan Zic, University of Maryland, Department of Government and Politics, 3140 Tydings Hall, 7343 Preinkert Drive, College Park, MD 20742. E-mail:
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Some of the data applied in the analyses in this publication are based on the “South East European Social Survey Project – 2003–2004.” The survey was financed by the Research Council of Norway. The data are provided by Albert Simkus and prepared and made available by the Norwegian Social Science Data Services (NSD). Neither Albert Simkus, the Research Council of Norway, nor NSD are responsible for the analyses/interpretations of the data presented here. The author wishes to thank Jóhanna Birnir, Mark Lichbach, John McCauley, Mansoor Moaddel, Vladimir Tismaneanu, the editors, and the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions.

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