UCL Institute of the Americas


The Political Futility of Counterinsurgency

23 November 2017, 5:30 pm

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UCL Institute of the Americas


UCL Institute of the Americas, 51 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PN

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Dr. Manuel Vogt (UCL) - What are the long-term political consequences of counterinsurgent violence? An emerging literature analyzes the socio-political consequences of civil war. Yet, while the bulk of this research focuses on individual-level effects, we still have little knowledge about how these results aggregate up to collective outcomes. This study analyzes the electoral consequences of the genocidal counterinsurgency in Guatemala's three-decades long civil war (1966-96). Previous studies claimed that the violence has drawn the affected indigenous communities away from leftist parties into the fold of neo-authoritarian clientelism.

We use data from the Historical Clarification Commission (CEH) on massacres and arbitrary executions carried out by the state during the civil war, as well as electoral data at the municipal level, to analyze the impact of counterinsurgency violence on the post-conflict electoral support for leftist parties in a cross-section of all Guatemalan municipalities. Controlling for the factors that determined the non-random geographic distribution of state violence (insurgent potential and guerrilla presence), in addition to department-level fixed effects, our results indicate that the municipalities most affected by the violence voted most heavily for leftist parties in the post-conflict elections. These results also hold in a dyadic analysis of spatially contiguous municipalities within the same department.

Dr. Manuel Vogt is an assistant professor (lecturer) in the Department of Politics, School of Public Policy, at University College London (UCL). He is also an affiliated researcher in the R4D project 'Ethnic Power Relations and Conflict in Fragile States,' funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). He received his Ph.D. in political science from ETH Zürich and was subsequently a visiting postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University.  His research and teaching interests stand at the intersection of international relations and comparative politics, with a particular focus on contentious politics in developing countries. He is most interested in four broad related topics: the macro-historical roots of inequality and civil violence in multi-ethnic states, the causes and consequences of group mobilization, democracy in multi-ethnic societies, as well as the impact of elite networks on contentious politics in developing countries.

This session is part of the UCL Americas Latin American Political Economy Seminar series, convened by Dr. Néstor Castañeda, Assistant Professor of Latin American Political Economy at UCL Institute of the Americas.