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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

Yusaku Horiuchi

Dartmouth College - Department of Government

Matthew Laing

Australian National University

Paul 't Hart

Australian National University (ANU) - School of Social Sciences

Date Written: October 27, 2012

Abstract

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

Horiuchi, Yusaku and Laing, Matthew and Hart, Paul 't, Hard Acts to Follow: Predecessor Effects on Party Leader Survival (October 27, 2012). Party Politics, Vol. 21, No 3, pp. 357-366, May 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2167742 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2167742

Yusaku Horiuchi (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College - Department of Government ( email )

204 Silsby Hall
HB 6108
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.dartmouth.edu/horiuchi/

Matthew Laing

Australian National University ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

Paul 't Hart

Australian National University (ANU) - School of Social Sciences ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

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