Strategic choices by the incumbent and challenger during revolution and civil war

Kjell Hausken, Mthuli Ncube


A game is developed where an incumbent chooses between benefits provision to the population, which decreases the probability of revolution endogenously, and fighting with a challenger. Thereafter the challenger chooses a degree of fighting, which determines rent sharing. A successful revolution enables the challenger to replace the incumbent. An unsuccessful revolution preserves the status quo, or causes standoff or coalition. The four possibilities of incumbent replacement, status quo, standoff, or coalition combine with the incumbent either repressing (providing benefits below a threshold) or accommodating (providing benefits above a threshold) the population, for a total of eight outcomes. Such a rich conceptualization of eight outcomes of civil war is missing in the literature. We show how an advantaged versus disadvantaged incumbent deters or fights with a challenger, and provides versus does not provide benefits to the population. The eight outcomes are mapped to 87 revolutions 1961-2011.


Revolution; civil war; fighting; accommodation; incumbent; challenger; game; conflict

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