Coercion and Capture in Democratic Politics

Coercion and Capture in Democratic Politics

Thursday, November 16, 2023
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM

Virtual to Public. Only those with an active Stanford ID with access to Encina E008 in Encina Hall may attend in person.

Andres Uribe seminar

Violent non-state actors frequently intervene in democratic politics, producing waves of political violence against voters, candidates, and elected officials. How do we understand these interventions? I argue that armed actors confront a tradeoff between two impulses: to discredit democracy as a political project or to bend elections and the policymaking process to their political agenda. How groups navigate that tradeoff is a function of how compatible their goals are with the democratic process and how much coercive power they can muster to compel voters and elected officials to meet their demands. I evaluate this theory through a paired comparison of two leftist insurgent groups: Sendero Luminoso in Peru and the FARC in Colombia. Archival evidence and computational content analysis illustrate the ideological divergence between the two groups. Leveraging variation in local military capacity caused by exogenous shifts in coca cultivation income, I demonstrate the effects of ideology and coercive capacity on violence and election outcomes. These results have implications for theories of political violence and democratic accountability.


Andres Uribe is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at Stanford University. He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Chicago in 2023. His book project, "Coercion and Capture in Democratic Politics," examines how armed non-state groups seek to influence the democratic process. Through quantitative, computational, and archival analysis of rebel, paramilitary, and criminal groups in Latin America, he identifies the conditions that lead these actors to intervene in electoral politics, the structural forces that determine whether they succeed or fail, and the consequences of these interventions for democratic institutions and policy outcomes. Other projects explore processes of modern state-building, governance by non-state actors, and the political strategies of anti-democratic politicians.

Virtual to Public. Only those with an active Stanford ID with access to E008 in Encina Hall may attend in person.