Matthew A. Baum

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The Iraq Coalition of theWilling and (Politically) Able: Party Systems, the Press, and Public Influence on Foreign Policy

Media outlets in multi-party electoral systems tend to report on a wider range of policy issues than media in two-party systems. They thus make more competing policy frames available to citizens. This suggests that a “free press” is insufficient to hold governments accountable. Rather, we should observe more challenges to the governments’ preferred frames and more politically aware citizens in multi-party democracies. Such citizens should thus be better equipped to hold their leaders accountable, relative to their counterparts in two-party democracies. I propose a mechanism through which democratic publics can sometimes constrain their leaders in foreign policy. I test hypotheses derived from my theory with cross-national data on the content of news coverage of Iraq, public support for the war and on decisions to join (or not) the Iraq “Coalition of the Willing.” I find that citizens in countries with larger numbers of parties confronted more critical and diverse coverage of Iraq, while those with more widespread access to mass media were more likely to oppose the war and their nations likely to contribute fewer troops to the Coalition.

 

You can download a pdf copy of this paper, here.

You can download a replication dataset, here.

You can download a pdf copy of the supplemental appendix that goes with the paper, here.

 

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