War and The Survivial of Political Leaders: A comparative Study of Regime Types and Poltical Accountability

  • Bueno De Mesquita B
  • Siverson R
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We seek to answer the question, What effect does international war
participation have on the ability of political leaders to survive
in office? We develop a model of political reliability and derive
seven related hypotheses from it that anticipate variation in the
time a national political leader will survive in office after the
onset of a war. Drawing upon a broadly based data set on state involvement
in international war between 1816 and 1975, our expectations are
tested through censored Weibull regression. Four of the hypotheses
are tested, and all are supported by the analysis. We find that those
leaders who engage their nation in war subject themselves to a domestic
political hazard that threatens the very essence of the office-holding
homo politicus, the retention of political power. The hazard is mitigated
by longstanding experience for authoritarian elites, an effect that
is muted for democratic leaders, while the hazard is militated by
defeat and high costs from war for all types of leaders. Additionally,
we find that authoritarian leaders ave inclined to war longer after
they come to power than democratic leaders. Further, democratic leaders
select wars with a lower risk of defeat than do their authoritarian

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  • Bruce Bueno De Mesquita

  • Randolph M. Siverson

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