Hard Acts to Follow: Predecessor Effects on Party Leader Survival
Party Politics, Vol. 21, No 3, pp. 357-366, May 2015
29 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2012 Last revised: 20 Jun 2015
Date Written: October 27, 2012
In this paper, using our original data on party leadership succession in twenty-three parliamentary democracies, we investigate the determinants of a party leader’s survival rate: how long he/she remains in office. Unlike previous studies, which focus on institutional settings of leadership selection or on situational (political, economic, and international) conditions at the time of succession, we propose a perceptual theory of leadership survival, focusing on the expectations of party constituents (or indirectly, the voting public) who have the power to remove a leader. Specifically, we argue that they “benchmark” their expectation of a current party leader’s performance by comparing it against their memory of that leader’s immediate predecessor. Empirically, we show that party leaders who succeeded a (very) long-serving party leader and/or to a leader who had also been the head of government experience lower longevity than others, making these types of predecessors “hard acts to follow”.
Keywords: leadership transition, leadership survival, political parties
JEL Classification: D72, D73
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation