The Political Determinants of Ambassadorial Appointments
Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 45, Issue 3, pp. 445-466, 2015
58 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2014 Last revised: 30 Jul 2015
Date Written: 2015
Media accounts of presidential appointments have often characterized the ambassadorial appointments process as overtaken by patronage concerns, with the most attractive posts set aside for those responsible for the president’s election, few of whom have diplomatic experience. Here, using original data on all ambassadors, envoys, and other chiefs of mission appointed during the 68th through 112th Congresses, I leverage the credentialing process of the Foreign Service to conduct an empirical test of the determinants of professional versus nonprofessional appointments. I find that Foreign Service appointments are more likely when there exists significant ideological distance between the appointing president and the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, when the difficulty of the posting is high, and when the attractiveness of the posting is low.
Keywords: presidency, Congress, appointments, interbranch bargaining, separation of powers, foreign policy, ambassadors
JEL Classification: D70, D72, D73
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation