Journal Article - International Studies Quarterly

Ballots and Blackmail: Coercive Diplomacy and the Democratic Peace

| December 2016


Does the restraint that prevents pairs of democracies from fighting large-scale wars also prevent them from coercing one another? While scholars have long drawn a bright line between using force and threatening it, the literature on democratic-peace theory overwhelmingly emphasizes the former. Using a dataset uniquely suited for the study of militarized compellent threats, we find that pairs of democracies are significantly less likely to engage in coercive diplomacy than are other types of regimes. We employ a variety of estimators to ensure the robustness of our results; the finding holds in all cases. We also elaborate on several alternative logics that might account for the hypotheses. This allows us to adjudicate between a variety of mechanisms. Our findings reveal that democratic-peace theory has broader applicability than even proponents give it credit for: not only are democracies less likely to fight wars with one another, but they also prove less likely to threaten each other with force.

A correction has been published: International Studies Quarterly, Volume 61, Issue 3, September 2017, Pages 746–747,

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For Academic Citation:

Poznansky, Michael and Matt K. Scroggs. "Ballots and Blackmail: Coercive Diplomacy and the Democratic Peace." International Studies Quarterly, vol. 60. no. 4. (December 2016): 731–741 .

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