Political Institutions and Armed Conflict (PIAC)

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About the project | Affiliated researchers | Publications: Journal articlesBooks and monographs – Book chaptersMA theses  | Data

About the project

If conflict is the problem, is democracy the solution? Armed conflict and political violence not only results in devastating direct violence, it also impedes growth, threatens public health, and exacerbates poverty. Academic research on the conflict-reducing effects of democratic institutions provides only ambiguous support for a policy of ‘democratization for peace’. We argue that the ambiguous relationship between democracy and conflict is due to a set of theoretical and methodological shortcomings in the literature, including over-aggregation of democracy indicators, a disregard of  the complexity of political institutions, over-reliance on few sources, treatment of actors as uniform, and an insensitivity to how political institutions work indirectly through their impact on other social conditions such as education and economic growth.

The objective of this project is to reassess the role of democratic political institutions for internal armed conflict. This will be pursued by six related ‘work packages’: (1) develop a theoretical model that identifies equilibrium constellations of various components of political institutions and the socio-economic conditions they exist within, (2) collect data on large number of aspects of political institutions and generate indices of the components specified in the theoretical model, (3) looking more critically at the role electoral fraud, electoral violence, and legislative voting behavior, (4) testing the theoretical model’s empirical implications, (5) investigating the indirect and long-term effects of political institutions, and (6) using the knowledge gained in a forecasting model to evaluate the total effect of complex models and the likely impact of a set of possible policy responses. Together, the six approaches will address the methodological shortcomings in the literature and put the knowledge concerning the relationship between democratic political institutions on a considerably more secure footing, theoretically and empirically.

The project collaborates with the Institutions and Elections Project at Binghamton University to update their collection of data on political institutions and practices, and political elections for all countries in the international system to cover the time-span from 1960 through 2011.

See full project description here.

Affiliated researchers

Journal articles

Basedau, Matthias; Birte Pfeier; & Johannes Vullers (2016). Bad Religion? Religion, Collective Action and the Onset of Armed Conflict in Developing CountriesJournal of Conflict Resolution 60(2): 226-255.

Basedau, Matthias (2016). Ideen, Identitäten und Institutionen: Explikation eines multidimensionalen Religionsbegriffs in der Friedens- und Konfliktforschung [Ideas, Identities and Institutions – Explaining a Multidimensional Concept of Religion in Peace and Conflict Studies]. Zeitschrift fur Friedens- und Konfliktforschung (ZEFKO) 4.

Basedau, Matthias; Jonathan Fox; Jan Pierskalla; Georg Struver; & Johannes Vullers (forthcoming). Does Discrimination Breed Grievances – and Do Grievances Breed Violence? New Evidence from Group-based Data 1990-2008. Conflict Management and Peace Science.

Basedau, Matthias; & Carlo Koos (2015). When Do Religious Leaders Support Faith-Based Violence? Evidence from a Survey Poll in South Sudan. Political Research Quarterly 68(4): 760-772.

Buhaug, Halvard (2014). Concealing Agreements over Climate-Conflict Results. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111(6): E636.

Buhaug, Halvard; Jonas Nordkvelle; Thomas Bernauer; Tobias Bohmelt; Michael Brzoska; Joshua W. Busby; Antonio Ciccone; Hanne Fjelde; Erik Gartzke; Nils Petter Gleditsch; Jack A. Goldstone; Håavard Hegre; Helge Holtermann; Vally Koubi; Jasmin S. A. Link; P. Michael Link; Paivi Lujala; John O’Loughlin; Clionadh Raleigh; Jurgen Scheran; Janpeter Schilling; Todd G. Smith; Ole Magnus Theisen; Richard S. J. Tol; Henrik Urdal; & Nina von Uexkull (2014). One Effect to Rule Them All? A Comment on Climate and Conflict. Climatic Change 127(3-4): 391-397.

Fjelde, Hanne (2015). Farming or Fighting? Agricultural Price Shocks and Civil War in Africa. World Development 67(March): 525-534.

Fjelde, Hanne; & Håvard Hegre (2014). Political Corruption and Institutional StabilityStudies in Comparative International Development 49(3): 267-299.

Fjelde, Hanne; & Kristine Höglund (2013). Kenya: Fredslobotomi eller hållbar demokrati? Internationella Studier 2.

Fjelde, Hanne; & Kristine Höglund (forthcoming). Electoral Institutions and Electoral Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa. British Journal of Political Science, DOI: 10.1017/S0007123414000179.

Fjelde, Hanne & Gudrun Østby (2014). Socioeconomic Inequality and Communal Conflict. A Disaggregated Analysis of Sub-Saharan Africa, 1990-2008. Internactional Interactions 40(5): 737-762.

Gates, Scott; Hegre, Håvard; Nygård, Håvard Mokleiv; & Strand, Håvard (2012). Development Consequences of Armed Conflict. World Development 40(9): 1713–1722.

Hegre, Håvard (2014). Democracy and Armed Conflict. Journal of Peace Research 51(2): 159-172. Pre-publication version.

Hegre, Håvard (2013). Peace on Earth? The Future of Internal Armed Conflict. Significance Magazine 10(1): 4–8.

Hegre, Håvard; & Nygård, Håvard Mokleiv (2015). Governance and Conflict Relapse. Journal of Conflict Resolution 59(6): 984-1016. Pre-publication version.

Hegre, Håvard; Nygård, Håvard Mokleiv; Strand, Håvard; Urdal, Henrik; & Karlsen, Joakim (2013). Predicting Armed Conflict, 2010-2050. International Studies Quarterly 57(2): 250–270.

Knutsen, Carl Henrik (2013). Democracy, State Capacity and Economic Growth. World Development 43: 1-18.

Knutsen, Carl Henrik (2014). Income Growth and Revolutions. Social Science Quarterly 95(4): 920-937.

Knutsen, Carl Henrik; & Fjelde, Hanne (2013). Property Rights in Dictatorships: Kings Protect Property Better than Generals or Party Bosses. Contemporary Politics 19(1): 94-114.

Knutsen, Carl Henrik; & Håvard Mokleiv Nygard (2015). Institutional Characteristics and Regime Survival: Why Are Semi-Democracies Less Durable Than Autocracies and Democracies? American Journal of Political Science 59(3): 656-670.

Knutsen, Carl Henrik; & Tore Wig (2015). Government Turnover and the Effects of Regime Type: How Requiring Alternation in Power Biases against the Estimated Economic Benefits of Democracy.Comparative Political Studies 48(7): 882-914.

Nygård, Håvard Mokleiv (forthcoming). The Role of International Organizations in Regime Transitions: How IGOs Can Tie a Dictator’s Hands. Conflict Management and Peace Science.

Nygård, Håvard Mokleiv; & Weintraub, Michael (2015). Bargaining between Rebel Groups and the Outside Option of Violence. Terrorism and Political Violence 27(3): 557-580.

Opitz, Christian; Hanne Fjelde; & Kristine Hoglund (2013). Including Peace: The Influence of Electoral Management Bodies on Electoral Violence. Journal of Eastern African Studies 7(4): 713-731.

Regan, Patrick M.; & Wallensteen, Peter (2013). Federal Institutions, Declarations of Independence and Civil War. Civil Wars 15(3): 261-280.

Strand, Håvard; & Henrik Urdal (2014). Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing: Can States Reduce the Risk of Armed Conflict by Banning Census Data on Ethnic Groups? International Area Studies Review 17(2): 167-183.

Strasheim, Julia; & Fjelde, Hanne (2012). Pre-Designing Democracy: Institutional Design of Interim Governments and Democratization in 15 Post-Conflict Societies. Democratization: 1-24.

Vüllers, Johannes; Birte Pfeier; & Matthias Basedau (forthcoming). Measuring the Ambivalence of Religion: Introducing the Religion and Conflict in Developing Countries (RCDC) Dataset. International Interactions.

Wig, Tore; Håvard Hegre & Patrick M. Regan (2015). Updated Data on Institutions and Elections 1960–2012: Presenting the IAEP Dataset Version 2.0Research and Politics. DOI: 10.1177/2053168015579120.

Østby, Gudrun (2013). Inequality and Political Violence: A Review of the Literature. International Areas Studies Review 16(2): 206-231.

Books and monographs

Gates, Scott; & Kaushik Roy (2014). Unconventional Warfare in South Asia. Shadow Warriors and Counterinsurgency. Farnham: Ashgate.

Gates, Scott; & Kaushik Roy (eds.) (2014). War and State-Building in Afghanistan: From Mughals to Americans. London: Bloomsbury.

Nygård, Håvard Mokleiv (2014). Five Essays on the Political Economy of Regime Survival.  Institutt for statsvitenskap, Universitetet i Oslo.

Wig, Tore (2015). Beyond the Civil Democratic Peace: Subnational Institutions and Internal Armed Conflict. Institutt for statsvitenskap, Universitetet i Oslo.

Wilson, Matthew Charles (2015). Castling the King: Institutional Sequencing and Regime Change. Department of Political Science, Pennsylvania State University.

Book chapters

Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede & Håvard Hegre (2014). ‘Regime Type and Political Transition in Civil War’, in Newman, Edward & DeRouen, Karl (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Civil Wars. London: Routledge.

Hegre, Håvard (forthcoming). ‘Civil Conflict and Development’, in van de Walle, Nicholas; & Lancaster, Carol (eds.): Oxford University Press Handbook on the Politics of Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hegre, Håvard; & Holtermann, Helge (2012). ‘Poverty and Conflict’, pp. 39–58 in Brown, Graham; & Langer, Arnim (eds.): Elgar Handbook of Civil War and Fragile States. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Hegre, Håvard; & Idunn Kristiansen (2016). ‘Global, State, and Individual Security in Quantitative Conflict Research’, in Schlag, Gabi; Junk, Julian; & Daase, Christopher (eds.), Transformations of Security Studies: Dialogues, Diversity and Discipline. New York: Routledge.

Knutsen, Carl Henrik (2014). ‘Hvor demokratisk er det norske demokratiet? En internasjonal sammenligning’, in Baldersheim, Harald; & Østerud, Øyvind  (eds.), Det norske demokratiet i det 21. århundre. Bergen: Fagbokforlaget.

Knutsen, Carl Henrik (2014). ‘Demokrati og økonomisk vekst’, in Malnes, Raino; & Thorsen, Dag Einar (eds.), Demokratiet – historien og ideene. Oslo: Dreyer.

Knutsen, Carl Henrik; & Thorsen, Dag Einar (2014). ‘Diktaturet – Demokratiets motsats?’, in Malnes, Raino; & Thorsen, Dag Einar (eds.), Demokratiet – historien og ideene. Oslo: Dreyer.

Wig, Tore (2015). ‘Political Institutions and Internal Armed Conflict: A Review’, in Jakobsen, Tor-Georg (eds.), War: An Introduction to Theories and Research on Collective Violence. Nova Scientic Publishers.

Østby, Gudrun; & Håvard Strand (2013). ‘Horizontal Inequalities and Internal Conflict: The Impact of Regime Type and Political Leadership Regulation’, in  Kelechi, Kalu; Uzodike, Ufo Okeke; & Kraybill, Dave (eds.): Territoriality, Citizenship, and Peacebuilding: Perspectives on Challenges to Peace in Africa. Pietermarizburg: Adonis & Abbey.

MA theses

Belbo, Ragnhild (2014). May Countries’ Institutional Legacy or Conflict Legacy Condition the Conflict-Inducing Effect of Oil? Institutt for statsvitenskap, UiO.

Bugge, Hanna (2014). Non-State Conflicts, Weak State Capacity and Regime Change. Institutt for statsvitenskap, UiO.

Kristiansen, Idunn (2013). Institutions and Armed Conflict: Is the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Unique? Institutt for Sammenliknende politikk, UiB.

Smidt, Martin (2015). The Trouble With Herding Cats: Country Eects on the Accuracy of Conflict Forecasting. Institutt for statsvitenskap, UiO.

Stiansen, Øyvind (2013). Post-Conflict Democracy for Durable Peace? Institutt for statsvitenskap, UiO.


Wig, Tore; Håvard Hegre; & Patrick M. Regan (2015). Updated Data on Institutions and Elections 1960–2012: Presenting the IAEP Dataset Version 2.0Research and Politics. DOI: 10.1177/2053168015579120. >> See also the IAEP homepage.

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