International Negotiations in the Shadow of Elections

Justin Melnick, Alastair Smith

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Within a formal model of international agreements in the shadow of renegotiations and domestic competition, we highlight three important ways elections shape international agreements. Elections determine who will be in control of policy in the future, which affects how leaders bargain today. Elections also determine the deals policymakers will agree to. Finally, proposers have the opportunity to shape the contours of domestic political competition with what is offered in pre-electoral bargaining. We identify that several canonical results in the literature – like the Schelling conjecture or the idea that hawkish leaders have an innate bargaining advantage over dovish leaders – only hold under certain restrictions on how voters evaluate their leaders. In contrast, we show paradoxically that when voters are prospective, electoral incentives shade the ability for domestic leaders to negotiate better deals for their publics. Counterintuitively, this leads to hawks agreeing to more conciliatory agreements than doves.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1452-1481
    Number of pages30
    JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
    Issue number7-8
    StatePublished - Aug 1 2023


    • bargaining
    • domestic politics
    • international cooperation
    • negotiations

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Business, Management and Accounting
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations


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