Political Science

Violent Victors: Why Bloodstained Parties Win Postwar Elections

Why populations brutalized in war elect their tormentors


Published (US):
Nov 22, 2022
Published (UK):
Dec 13, 2022
6.13 x 9.25 in.
43 b/w illus. 31 tables.
Political Science
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One of the great puzzles of electoral politics is how parties that commit mass atrocities in war often win the support of victimized populations to establish the postwar political order. Violent Victors traces how parties derived from violent, wartime belligerents successfully campaign as the best providers of future societal peace, attracting votes not just from their core supporters but oftentimes also from the very people they targeted in war.

Drawing on more than two years of groundbreaking fieldwork, Sarah Daly combines case studies of victim voters in Latin America with experimental survey evidence and new data on postwar elections around the world. She argues that, contrary to oft-cited fears, postconflict elections do not necessarily give rise to renewed instability or political violence. Daly demonstrates how war-scarred citizens reward belligerent parties for promising peace and security instead of blaming them for war. Yet, in so casting their ballots, voters sacrifice justice, liberal democracy, and social welfare.

Proposing actionable interventions that can help to moderate these trade-offs, Violent Victors links war outcomes with democratic outcomes to shed essential new light on political life after war and offers global perspectives on important questions about electoral behavior in the wake of mass violence.

Awards and Recognition

  • Winner of the Luebbert Best Book Award, Comparative Politics Section of the American Political Science Association
  • Winner of the Leon Epstein Outstanding Book Award, Political Organizations and Parties section of the American Political Science Association
  • Shortlisted for the Gregory Luebbert Best Book Prize, Comparative Politics section of the American Political Science Association