Party Leader Effects on the Vote

Sören Holmberg and Henrik Oscarsson

in Political Leaders and Democratic Elections

Published in print March 2013 | ISBN: 9780199259007
Published online January 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780191803406 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

Party Leader Effects on the Vote

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This chapter examines the effects of party leaders on the vote. It tests the following hypotheses: first, that party leader popularity has a fairly substantial impact on the vote in most political systems irrespective of electoral procedures; second, that party leaders over time have become a greater influence on the vote; third, that to the extent that we find leader effects on the vote, we expect them to be more pronounced in elections characterized by relatively low degrees of party polarization; and fourth, that party leader effects on the vote are larger in countries employing plurality/majoritarian electoral systems than in countries using proportional systems. The results show that in the United States, leader effects are stronger than party effects in presidential elections. In countries using plurality/majoritarian electoral systems, leader effects are less strong than party effects, but leader effects tend nevertheless to be sizeable and non-trivial. In countries that use proportional list systems, party effects are much stronger than leader effects, which does not mean that leader effects are non-existent in these countries, but that they are in most cases close to trivial.

Keywords: political parties; party leaders; voting behaviour; voters; electoral systems; plurality; presidential elections

Chapter.  6714 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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