Backing Down and Domestic Political Survival in Israel: Audience Costs and the Lebanon War of 2006
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A debate has emerged among international relations theorists over the importance and existence of audience costs in international politics. Yet tests of audience costs theory have focused mainly on a two-party presidential democracy, the United States, and have largely ignored multi-party parliamentary democracies. This article explores a case in a country previously ignored by proponents and critics of audience cost theory: the Second Lebanon War of 2006 in Israel. Consistent with the theory, this article finds that the general public disapproved of the Olmert government’s backing down after issuing threats against Hezbollah, and that public disapproval greatly weakened the government. However, this case study also shows that leaders can still retain office when they face multiple audiences (or principals), by cutting side deals with other parties in parliament.