The Last Step to the Throne, the Conflict between Monarchs and Crown Princes

55 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2020 Last revised: 13 Jul 2022

Date Written: February 19, 2020


I model the dynamic between ruler and successor. The ruler wants to cultivate a successor for a smooth power transition but fears being ousted by him, while the successor fears being removed by the ruler; these mutual fears may induce ruler--successor conflict. Each party follows a non-monotonic equilibrium strategy. The successor accumulates power while not threatening the ruler, and he prolongs their relationship by maintaining a low profile. The ruler gradually becomes more intolerant of the successor's growing power but, as her life nears its end, has less incentive to replace him. Thus conflict is most probable in the middle of their relationship. Although an institutionalized procedure may render conflict less likely, a predetermined succession order could increase its likelihood by restricting the ruler's optimal time to select a successor. If there are two candidates then a ruler prefers the weaker one only if their capabilities are similar.

Keywords: Conflict, Succession, Political Economy

Suggested Citation

Zhou, Congyi, The Last Step to the Throne, the Conflict between Monarchs and Crown Princes (February 19, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Congyi Zhou (Contact Author)

New York University ( email )

19 West 4th Street - 2nd floor
New York, NY 10012
United States
2129988500 (Phone)

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