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War and Democratic ConstraintHow the Public Influences Foreign Policy$
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Matthew A. Baum and Philip B. K. Potter

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691164984

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691164984.001.0001

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Democracies Are Not Created Equal: A Theory of Democratic Constraint

Democracies Are Not Created Equal: A Theory of Democratic Constraint

(p.14) 2 Democracies Are Not Created Equal: A Theory of Democratic Constraint
War and Democratic Constraint

Matthew A. Baum

Philip B. K. Potter

Princeton University Press

This chapter introduces a theory of democratic constraint and derives testable hypotheses. Drawing on literatures ranging from principal-agent theory to political communication and crisis bargaining, it establishes expectations about the processes that result in the public actually becoming aware of foreign policy and then responding at the ballot box. The chapter argues that democratic institutions that favor the flow of information between citizens and leaders—most notably those fostering both political opposition that can generate credible information and an independent and accessible media that can transmit it—contribute to constraint. However, there is substantial heterogeneity among democracies in the extent to which these conditions hold. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how various combinations of these institutional attributes will translate into foreign policy behavior, with a particular focus on conflict behavior.

Keywords:   democratic constraint, principal-agent theory, political communication, crisis bargaining, foreign policy, information, leaders, political opposition, media, conflict behavior

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