ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

The Leadership Dilemma: Examining the Impact of 'Strong Leaders' on Parties

Comparative Politics
Elections
Elites
Political Leadership
Political Parties
Eoin O'Malley
Dublin City University
Eoin O'Malley
Dublin City University
Despina Alexiadou
University of Strathclyde

Abstract

It is treated almost as axiomatic that strong leaders are a good thing in democracies (Brown 2014: 1). Parties see the need for strong leaders, and are on a continual search for a leader with that magic touch: a Tsipras or a Renzi. Parties endlessly speculate on removing leaders when their choice appears to have been mistaken as Abbott and Miliband demonstrate. The evidence of party behaviour suggests 'strong' leaders are a boon for parties. We question this assumption. We ask whether 'strong leaders' are actually damaging to parties long term prospects, and test this using a large dataset. We drill down into the results with case studies that are designed to show why this might be. That is, do they damage parties by breaking trust with the public, creating factions within the party, de-institutionalising the party machine and some others.