Abstract

Election interference has long been a tool of foreign policy available to state actors but has recently risen in prominence as a result of Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election in the United States. Although much has been written about election interference, most existing scholarship focuses on its use to promote a certain candidate or party. Hybrid warfare theory, which posits that modern conflict is increasingly characterized by the coordinated use of a wide range of tactics, provides a powerful alternative framework for understanding election interference. This Independent Study considers election interference through the lens of hybrid warfare theory, conceptualizing it as a tactic of hybrid warfare that can be used to intensify internal divisions within a target state. Using the comparative case study methodology, this study seeks to investigate how foreign election interference affects internal divisions, and how changes in these divisions impact a state’s foreign policy. Three cases in which interference is widely thought to have occurred are examined: the 2016 American presidential election, the 2018 Taiwanese local elections, and the 2016 “Brexit” referendum. Analysis of these cases reveals that election interference caused an intensification of internal divisions in all three countries where it occurred. However, the intensification of these divisions did not appear to undermine the ability of these states to implement foreign policy. These results suggest that hybrid warfare theory provides a useful way to understand election interference and demonstrate the need for additional research in this area.

Advisor

Lantis, Jeffrey

Department

Political Science

Disciplines

International Relations | Political Science

Keywords

Election Interference, Hybrid Warfare

Publication Date

2021

Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

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© Copyright 2021 Jonathan Davies