When do political parties turn to terrorism? What circumstances cause political parties to embark on campaigns of terrorist violence? What causes terrorist groups to make a 'strategic choice' and abandon the bomb in favour of the ballot box? It is these topical and controversial questions which the authors of this book examine through a number of case studies including Sinn Fein and the IRA, Herri Batasuna and ETA, and the ANC and The Spear of the Nation (its armed wing). They demonstrate that political parties and terrorism have much more in common than is ordinarily supposed and discuss the ways in which the two often become linked to one another. The book examines cases where political parties engage in the conventional electoral process whilst carrying out terrorist attacks, as well as highlighting the occasions when clandestine terrorist groups establish 'political wings' in order to better convey their views to the public. Most people believe that party politics in general are at the heart of the democratic process and that democracies provide the means for the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
However, Weinberg and Pedahzur not only evidence the similarities between political parties and terrorist groups, but suggest that the transformation of the latter into peaceful political parties represents one way in which campaigns of terrorist violence may be brought to an end.
Leornard Weinberg is Foundation Professor of Political Science at the University of Nevada. For his work in promoting Christian-Jewish reconciliation, he received the 1999 Thornton Peace Prize. His books include, The Democratic Experience and Political Violence (2001, edited with David Rappaport) and The Emergence of a Euro-American Radical Right (1998, with Jeffrey Kaplan).
Ami Pedahzur is a lecturer in the Department of Political Science, University of Haifa, Israel. His publications include The Israeli Response to Jewish Extremism and Violence (2002) and The Extreme Right-Wing Parties in Israel: Emergence and Decline? (2000).