Thomson, Catarina 1980- (2012-12). Democratic Accountability in International Relations: Domestic Pressures and Constraints for Coercive Foreign Policy. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • My dissertation contributes to the accountability literature in international relations by examining the role constituents' preferences can potentially play in fomenting or constraining coercive foreign policies in democracies. In times of international crises, domestic audiences have specific coercive foreign policy preferences and will support executives who represent them when selecting coercive foreign policies. Executive actions will increase popular support or generate audience costs depending on whether these actions are consistent with the specific policy preferences that domestic audiences have given the threat a crisis poses to national security. To determine when audiences prefer economic or military coercion and how these preferences affect their evaluation of the executive I conduct three experiments, including a survey experiment conducted with a representative sample of Americans and an experiment conducted with a convenience sample in the United Kingdom. The results show interesting similarities and differences between the cross-national samples regarding foreign policy preferences and the public's propensity to support and punish leaders during times of international conflict. Mainly, I find that (1) the concept of audience costs can be expanded to cases of economic coercion, (2) under certain circumstances audience costs operate even in crises that are not very salient and (3) when there is a mismatch between public preferences and threats issued by the executive, audience costs do not operate at all.

publication date

  • December 2012