Statebreakers to Statemakers: Strategies of Rebel Governance

Jennifer Keister, Branislav L. Slantchev

June, 2014


Rebellion is more than a military contest. While armed confrontation between fighters and soldiers is often the most visible aspect of rebellion, rebels also have an ongoing relationship with the civilian population they purport to represent. This relationship varies: some rebels provide services and pursue policies civilians find attractive, while others extort resources from the populace and adopt unpopular positions. In an important way, rebels govern civilians. Why do their governance methods vary? We offer a simple model of how and why rebels govern using a mix of three tools: coercion, service provision, and ideological positioning. We show an important trade-off between power and ideology and trace the somewhat surprising effects various counter-insurgency strategies and rebel-sponsoring could have on rebel behavior.