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Prime Ministers Nominations in Comparative Perspective: When are Parties Willing to Experience Future Agency Losses?

Comparative Politics
Elections
Political Leadership
Political Parties
Candidate
Institutions
Javier Martínez-Cantó
Universität Konstanz
Javier Martínez-Cantó
Universität Konstanz

Abstract

Europe’s politics are becoming increasingly volatile and fragmented. Some authors link this to the increasing personalization, or even presidentialization, of politics and voting. In such a context, the question of whom parties nominate as top candidates become crucial. They will lead the campaign and, if successful, govern as prime minister. Hence parties have incentives to nominate electorally attractive people. This, in turn, may involve a trade-off as the party’s most popular potential candidate may be out of line with the party majority’s or median’s ideological preferences. Traditionally the literature has found that the party’s extra-parliamentary leaders run as the top candidate, but empirical studies do not find robust support for this claim. This paper takes this disagreement as a starting point for researching criteria that parties use when nominating their top candidates. When do parties do not nominate their formal leaders? Using the German and Spanish subnational levels, this paper studies party organizations between elections. For this purpose, a novel dataset on top candidates, parliamentary and extra-parliamentary party leaders, party features like primaries and intra-party regulation, and government composition have been constructed. Preliminary results, employing survival analysis in a competing risks framework, show that parties do to not nominate their leaders around 30% of the times, which especially occurs when they are facing turbulent times in the form of intra-party struggles or long periods in opposition.