Ignoring public opinion: the Australian and Polish decisions to go to war in Iraq
This article investigates why the governments of Australia and Poland decided to contribute military forces to the United States led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 when a majority of Australian and Polish citizens were opposed to national involvement in the invasion. The objective of the article is to increase understanding of the conditions under which governments ignore the public in their foreign policymaking. The article examines the explanatory power of four intervening variables: issue salience, elite debate, timing of the next election and the importance assigned to international gains by the government. On the basis of the Direct Method of Agreement, the article concludes that government perceptions of international gains and the timing of the next election were potentially necessary factors for the outcomes of the cases, while issue salience and elite debate were not necessary conditions. A distant election may, thus, provide sufficient electoral protection for a government that conducts a foreign policy to which the public is opposed.
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