The prevention of terrorist attacks is an important concern for many governments. In democracies, officials also fear the electoral consequences of successful attacks. As a result, counterterrorism policy-making and electoral concerns are tightly intertwined. To understand the implications of this link, I develop a game-theoretic model and show that left-wing incumbents respond to terror threats more aggressively than their right-wing counterparts in order to convince voters that they can be trusted in fighting terrorism. Terrorist attacks improve right-wing incumbents’ reputation, while they worsen the reputation of left-wing incumbents. When the terrorist threat is high, voters ignore right-wing incumbents’ reputation, reelecting them independently of their performance. Finally, I consider the strategic consequences of maintaining counterterrorism policies hidden from the public eye.
Di Lonardo, L., 2019. The partisan politics of counterterrorism: reputations, policy transparency, and electoral outcomes. Political Science Research and Methods, 7(2), pp.253-269.