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Kinder, Gentler, Safer? A Re-Examination of the Relationship between Consensus Democracy and Domestic Terrorism

Journal Abstract

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism

Can inclusive institutions tame the threat of domestic terrorism? In a series of recent publications, the political scientists Arend Lijphart and Matt Qvortrup claim that consensus democracies are not only kinder and gentler, but also safer: consensus democracies are less likely to experience deadly domestic terrorism and when they do, they suffer fewer fatalities than majoritarian democracies. This article reexamines the logic and the evidence. It argues that the underlying grievance theory of terrorism contains important gaps and that the statistical results are based on a problematic coding of cases and lack robustness. Lijphart and Qvortrup have opened up an important new line of inquiry, but their results do not withstand scrutiny.


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