DownloadHow democracies exit small wars: the role of opposition parties in war termination

This article published in the Australian Journal of International Affairs argues that opposition political parties can play an important role in determining when and how a democracy exits a small war. Recent theoretical and empirical research on small wars has further uncovered the restrictions and constraints that democratic societies place on their government’s war strategies. However, the mechanisms through which public opinion constrains and pressures government strategies have received relatively less academic attention. This article examines the role that opposition political parties play in providing an avenue through which society can shape foreign policy - namely, the exiting from small wars. It argues that opposition political parties can be instrumental in determining democracies’ war termination in three ways: through ‘elite cuing’, applying electoral pressure, or winning an election and assuming government.