Do Islamic State's Deadly Attacks Disengage, Deter, or Mobilize Supporters?

Joan Barceló and Elena Labzina

British Journal of Political Science. 2018 May 22:1-21.

What are the consequences of committing violent attacks for terrorist organizations? Terrorist attacks might broaden the base of supporters by increasing the perceived group efficacy. However, terrorist attacks might also lead its supporters to believe that the organization is excessively violent or involvement may become too dangerous. This article employs a unique dataset with 300,842 observations of 13,321 Twitter accounts linked to the Islamic State (IS), collected during a 127-day period, to empirically investigate the impact of terrorist attacks on the number of the organization’s supporters. By exploiting the exogenous timing of terrorist attacks as a natural experiment, we find that the number of followers of IS-related Twitter accounts significantly reduces in the aftermath of the attacks. Additionally, we provide some suggestive evidence to disentangle two mechanisms: disengagement – a change in supporters’ beliefs – and deterrence – demobilization due to fear. Because we do not find support for the latter, we conclude that the disengagement effect might explain our main result.

Bankrolling Repression? Modeling Third-Party Influence on Protests and Repression

American Journal of Political Science. 2018 Apr;62(2):312-24.

Chyzh, Olga, and Elena Labzina (2018). pdf

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Abstract: Ukraine’s anti-government protests in 2013-2014, and the ensuing removal of President Yanukovich, raised such speculation about Russia’s role in the outcome of the crisis, as well as more general questions related to third-party influence on domestic protests and repression. Does third-party assistance to the government increase the level of government repression or deter protesters? Does the leader removal indicate that foreign involvement was a failure? Or can a third party gain from involvement, even if its protege leader is removed from power? We model external influence on the onset of protests and repression as a game between the government, the protesters, and a third party that supports the government. The main finding is that a third party may “bankroll” repression against the protesters, even at the risk of the removal of their protege leader, with the goal of deterring future protests within its sphere of interest.

 key words:  protests, repression, third party, leader removal, three-player game

Cost and benefits of natural experiments in Political Science

Labzina, Elena.  CEU Political Science Journal 6, no. 4 (2011): 575-595.

(based on Elena Labzina’s master thesis at Central European University, supervised by Professor Tamas Rudas)

Abstract: Natural experiment is a research design that is widely employed in modern political science. Yet, in the existing literature the features of the concept are ambiguous. The major aim of this article is to refine the related theory and argue natural experiments provide valid estimates in terms of causal inference. First, the author summarizes briefly and develops the related theory: the ‘as-if’ treatment randomization assumption is redefined with the introduction of the expected exchangeability treatment assumption, which enables their classification more as natural experiments. Second, based on the renewed theory, the author proposes an algorithm for the assessment of assumed natural experiments. Third, the algorithm is applied to five illustrative cases of recent natural experiments from Political Science. As a result, it is found that only two of them may be considered capable of providing valid inference. The major empirical finding is these two valid natural experiments are ‘hidden’ experiments, e.g. the individual(s) who were unaware that they assigned treatment had performed the randomization. This leads to the conclusion that the mysterious “nature” in nature experiments is human beings.

keywords: assessment algorithm, expected exchangeability condition, ‘hidden’ experiments, natural experiments link 

Valence and Ideological Proximity in the Rise of Nationalist Parties: Spanish General Elections, 2008 and 2011

Labzina, Elena, Joan Barceló, and Norman Schofield. In State, Institutions and Democracy, pp. 105-142. Springer International Publishing, 2017.

Abstract: Spatial models of voting provide a formalization of the strategic process in which parties and voters compete in the elections. Following the logic of the classic spatial models, changes in party electoral support depend on the ideological distance between the parties and their electorates. However, a substantial share of the electoral volatility cannot be explained in spatial terms. This paper shows that áuctuations in the electoral support for political parties may be fundamentally determined by exogenous party valence. To test this hypothesis, we implement a modification of the multinomial logistic regression for the varying individual choice options (VCL) and apply it the Spanish General Elections in 2008 and 2011.

Application of the Variable Choice Logit Model to the British General Election of 2010

Labzina, Elena, and Norman Schofield. (2015) In The Political Economy of Governance, pp. 313-333. Springer International Publishing, 2015.

Abstract: The chapter aims to estimate the modification of the classic spatial electoral model and to evaluate the convergence of the electoral system at the origin for the case when the assumption of irrelevant alternatives (IIA) is violated, and, hence, the standard multinomial logistic model is inapplicable. The work looks at the General British Election of 2010, in which the voters from Scotland and Wales could vote for Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru, respectively, in addition to the parties common with the voters of England. To account properly for the presence of these additional parties, the theoretical model of Yamamoto (2011) for the varying choice logit (VCL) is implemented by applying Gibbs sampling. For the convenience of the analysis, the set of common parties is restricted to the three major parties, the Conservatives, Labour, and Liberal Democrats, that are of our main interest. In the end, we find that the electoral system diverges, because of the saddle location of Plaid Cymru. Meanwhile, conditional on the insignificance of this party, the system converges. A separate study of Scotland is particularly relevant because of the referendum on Scottish independence in September, 2014. The method deployed here is also relevant in many countries in Europe where there are regional parties, including Spain, Belgium, and Italy. link

Best practice policies for low energy and carbon buildings. A scenario analysis.

Ürge-Vorsatz, Diana, Ksenia Petrichenko, Miklos Antal, Maja Staniec, Eren Ozden, and Elena Labzina. (2012). In Research report prepared by the Center for Climate Change and Sustainable Policy (3CSEP) for the Global Best Practice Network for Buildingslink

Employment Impacts of a Large-Scale Deep Building Energy Retrofit Programme in Poland

Wójcik-Gront, Ela, Sergio Tirado Herrero, Elena Labzina, and Paul Foley (2012). link