Why Study Party Leadership Selection?

William Cross and André Blais

in Politics at the Centre

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199596720
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191740688 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

Why Study Party Leadership Selection?

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This chapter argues that political parties are central players in contemporary western democracies and that their leaders are powerful figures. Party leaders are increasingly important in all spheres of party activity including determination of policy positions, setting and executing campaign strategy, and internal organizational decision-making. This is particularly true in the Anglophone parliamentary democracies in which leaders are the indisputable heads of their parties and fill the key roles of Prime Minister and leaders of the opposition. Notwithstanding the importance of party leaders, there is little comprehensive, cross national study of leadership politics. Leadership contests often take place behind the closed door of the party room. The result is limited scholarly attention paid to how leaders are chosen and removed and the nature of leadership politics. This chapter explains how data were collected from twenty-five parties covering the period from 1965 to 2008 and how these are used to illuminate the questions set out above.

Keywords: party democracy; party leaders; Westminster parties; leadership elections

Chapter.  6412 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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