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Is It the Economy or Foreign Policy, Stupid? The Impact of Foreign Crises on Leader Support

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The public support literature maintains that leader popularity is driven by the state of the economy. Yet, according to the diversionary theory of war, foreign crisis participation may help an unpopular leader bolster his or her political fortunes through a rally-around-the-flag effect. Utilizing CSES Module II surveys covering twenty-six countries, 2001–2006, comparative investigation that links countries' foreign crises participation with individual-level data on subsequent support for their leaders is useful. Multi-level analyses reveal that foreign crisis participation draws attention to foreign policy issues, increases support for the leader, and comes close to offsetting the negative impact of unemployment. While employed and unemployed individuals respond to crises nearly equally, the crises help the leader less among citizens concerned about foreign policy.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 2013

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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