Rallies around the flag-draped coffins: The electoral effects of security force casualties in terror attacks

Resul Umit


Security forces have recently become the main target of political violence. I examine a natural experiment in Turkey to understand the effect of their casualties on vote choice. Between two general elections in 2015, Turkey experienced a series of attacks that killed 157 members of the security forces. Based on an exogenous variation of their hometowns across the country, I estimate that the government vote share increases in the burial places of terror victims. However, in the towns with recurring casualties, the support decreases by a similar percentage, cancelling the immediate rally behind the government out. Opposition parties do not experience a significant change in their vote share. Distinguishing between the initial and repeated casualties in an experimental design, these results provide a causal evidence for the rally theory.