The leadership dilemma : examining the impact of strong leaders on parties

Alexiadou, Despina and O'Malley, Eoin (2021) The leadership dilemma : examining the impact of strong leaders on parties. European Journal of Political Research. ISSN 0304-4130 (

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Party leaders are often regarded as crucial to a party's success. Successful leaders tend to be big personalities who dominate their party's organisation, policy development, and electoral campaigns. But does that control come with a price? We test to see if such leaders damage their parties in the medium term. This happens because strong leaders might be ceded too much control of the party organisation, policy and electoral strategy. We specifically hypothesise that political parties will go through a period of leadership instability and electoral decline after strong leaders step down. Using a dataset with elections under party leaders in nine countries over a 25-year period, and a qualitative case study, we find some evidence for the theory, which should prompt further research of the question.


Alexiadou, Despina ORCID logoORCID: and O'Malley, Eoin;