The leadership dilemma: examining the impact of strong leaders on parties

Despina Alexiadou, Eoin O'Malley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
80 Downloads (Pure)


Party leaders are often regarded as crucial to a party's success. Successful leaders tend to be big personalities who dominate their party's organisation, policy development, and electoral campaigns. But does that control come with a price? We test to see if such leaders damage their parties in the medium term. This happens because strong leaders might be ceded too much control of the party organisation, policy and electoral strategy. We specifically hypothesise that political parties will go through a period of leadership instability and electoral decline after strong leaders step down. Using a dataset with elections under party leaders in nine countries over a 25-year period, and a qualitative case study, we find some evidence for the theory, which should prompt further research of the question.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)783-806
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
Issue number3
Early online date22 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2022


  • leadership
  • dilemma
  • strong leaders
  • political parties


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