What prolonged implications does conflict escalation have on voting behavior? The literature focuses primarily on the immediate effect of violent events on voting in nearby elections, leaving open questions about longer-term consequences. This article examines this question by studying Israel, where violent escalation in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict in the early 2000s was followed by an unexpected electoral outcome: the emergence and consolidation of a new centrist bloc that transformed a longstanding Left-Right partisan divide into a three-bloc system. Using two decades of survey data, it is argued that this shift is best explained by a long-term attitudinal change toward the conflict by many Israelis after the escalation. Rather than a strictly hawkish shift, many voters have become ‘Doubtful Doves’: supportive of territorial compromise in principle, but skeptical about reaching an agreement with the Palestinians in practice. This underdiscussed attitudinal structure, dovish but doubtful, has formed a new electoral base for centrist parties, breaking the traditional Left-Right dichotomy. These findings illustrate that violent periods in conflicts can cause non-trivial long-term changes in popular attitude structures and voting patterns, which, under the right conditions, can trigger electoral re-equilibration.
This was originally published on SAGE Publications Ltd: Journal of Peace Research: Table of Contents.