Strategic voting in conditions of political instability: The 1994 elections in El Salvador

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This article presents a game theoretic model to explain the broad electoral support for the extreme right-wing party, the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), in the 1994 elections in El Salvador. Making use of poll data, the author shows that the deciding factor in this electoral outcome was not the procedural defects, the apathy of the electorate, or the disorganization of the opposition parties but, instead, uncertainty about the peace process. The model helps to explain why during the political campaign, ARENA played the "fear card" and why the peasants voted in such great numbers for a party opposed to the land reform that would greatly benefit them. The author argues that the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) participated in the election not just to win but more to provide legitimacy for the new democratic process. The article concludes by discussing implications of the findings for the prospects for democratic consolidation in El Salvador.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)810-834
Number of pages25
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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