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ECPR 50th Anniversary Fund

Explaining the Variation of Democratic Dynasties

Political Leadership
Political Parties
Political Sociology
Eoin O'Malley
Dublin City University
Eoin O'Malley
Dublin City University
Akisato Suzuki
University College Dublin
Gemma Mc Nulty
Dublin City University
David Doyle
University of Oxford

Though no systematic cross-national data exist political dynasties seem common in some countries yet almost completely absent in others. Dynasties might be important because if dynastic politics is common it may prevent meritocratic access to position of political power, thus denying the political system talent. But what explains the existence and variation in the extent of political dynasties? The popular literature seems to point to culture, but we develop a theory based on the electoral system and party policy. In short we expect dynasties to be more common where the electoral system is candidate based and where parties adopt clientelist policy are to mobilise support. Using a number of cases, Argentina, the US, the UK, Ireland, Japan, The Netherlands and Israel we find support for our hypothesis.
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