King's College London

Research portal

Why Do States Intervene in the Elections of Others? The Role of Incumbent-Opposition Divisions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Kai Jager, Nikolay Marinov, Federico Nanni, Johannes Bubeck

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Feb 2020


King's Authors


Why do states intervene in elections abroad? We argue that outsiders intervene when the main domestic contenders for office adopt policy positions that differ from the point of view of the outside power. We refer to the split between the government’s and opposition’s positions as policy polarization. Polarization between domestic political forces, rather than the degree of unfriendliness of the government in office, is what attracts interventions of two types: process
(for or against democracy) and candidate (for or against the government) interventions. We provide a novel, original data set to track the policy positions of local contenders. We show that the new policy polarization measurement outperforms a number of available alternatives when it comes to explaining process and candidate interventions. We use it to explain the behavior of the United States as an intervener in elections over the period 1945 to 2012. The
United States is more likely to support the opposition, and the democratic process abroad, if a pro-US opposition is facing an anti-US government. It is is more likely to support the government, and undermine the democratic process abroad, if a pro-US government is facing an anti-US opposition. We also present results for all interveners, confirming the results from the US case.

Download statistics

No data available

View graph of relations

© 2018 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454