Political Science Faculty Publications and Presentations

Patterns of Islamist violent mobilization in the context of Islamist party politics

Document Type


Publication Date



Over the last three decades both Islamist political parties and Islamist terrorist organizations have proliferated across the Muslim-majority world. Non-democratic regimes often argue that restrictions on Islamist political parties are necessary to curtail levels of Islamist violence, while Islamist parties argue that without opportunities to participate, Islamist supporters may be more likely to turn to violent forms of mobilization. Scholars generally agree that the freedoms of association granted under political democracy will facilitate the organization of violent groups, but electoral contestation should provide opportunities to redress grievances without turning to violence. By drawing on data from states where Islamist parties are organized, I find that when there are not opportunities for subnational governance (both regional and local) levels of free association rights are associated with increasing levels of violence. When there are opportunities for subnational governance, there is no relationship between free association rights and levels of violence. These findings highlight the demands of Islamist parties and the potential of subnational governance as a means of disincentivizing Islamist violence.


© 2022 Western Social Science Association


Publication Title

The Social Science Journal