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Winning hearts and minds with economic sanctions? Evidence from a survey experiment in Venezuela

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  • Mikkel Sejersen

Previous research contends that economic sanctions must benefit opposition groups relative to the incumbent regime in order to generate policy change. However, studies have found that sanctions often backfire and increase regime support. While this rally-around-the-flag effect is well known, it is currently unclear how senders can prevent it. In this article, I use individual-level data from a targeted state to examine whether a sender's framing of the sanctions may play a role in preventing the rally-around-the-flag effect. A survey experiment conducted among respondents in Venezuela demonstrates that the public attitude toward sanctions is shaped by the framing of the sanctions. Specifically, people adopt more favorable views when interpreting sanctions as targeted measures against regime members with the explicit goal of protecting fundamental human rights. The effects are evident among moderates, which is significant as they are otherwise the group most likely to rally behind the regime.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberoraa008
JournalForeign Policy Analysis
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

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