Skip to main content

Über dieses Buch

This book explores the varying ways in which political parties in Europe make arguably their most important decisions: the selection of their leaders. The choice shapes the representation of a party externally. It also influences the management of internal conflict, because there will always be some disagreement about the party’s direction. The rules of selection will naturally affect the outcome. Yet there is more to it than rules. Sometimes the process is open and fiercely contested. Sometimes the field of potential leaders is filtered even before the decision reaches the selectorate – the organ that, according to party statutes, formally makes the appointment. The selectorate might have only a single candidate to ratify, a so-called ‘coronation’. The book presents a framework for analysing both the formal and informal sides of leader selection, and hones the framework through its application in a series of case studies from nine European countries.



Chapter 1. Conflicts and Coronations: Analysing Leader Selection in European Political Parties

Political parties shape politics, and the most important person in a party is usually the leader. Party leaders make the political weather. Take a recent example from Britain. In 2015 the Labour Party, somewhat unexpectedly, lost a national election. Its leader resigned and a new one was needed. “Jeremy Corbyn is not going to win the Labour leadership election”, insisted one of the country’s shrewdest political commentators (Rentoul 2015). But Corbyn did win, and by a comfortable margin. Labour thus took a big stride to the left.
Nicholas Aylott, Niklas Bolin

Chapter 2. Party Leadership Selection in Estonia: The Long-Lasting Authority of the “Founding Fathers”

This chapter gives an overview of party leadership selection in two major Estonian political parties since their inception in the early 1990s and an-alyses these processes within the boundaries of the framework proposed by Aylott and Bolin in the first chapter of this volume.
Andres Reiljan

Chapter 3. Finland: Open and Public Contests Between Independent Candidates

Like several other European democracies, Finland has witnessed a tendency towards more leader-centric intra-party practices during the recent decades. Coincidentally, the contests for party leader’s seat that are fought inside parties appear to have become more open, public and competitive. To analyse the forces that direct the selection of party leaders in contemporary Finnish parties, this chapter describes the processes that preceded the final selection in three significant cases of party leader selection from the 2010s. The studied parties—a social democratic mass party, a conservative cadre party and an environmentalist activist party—reflect variation in intra-party democracy—the organisational factor that should most likely affect the nature of the contest. However, despite some party type-specific differences, all cases share distinctive characteristics that emphasise the public and openly competitive nature of the contests, and the difficulty to “manage” them to any specific direction. In Finland, party leader selection in a case where multiple candidates emerge reminds more of a democratic election where contending groups organise to campaign for their candidates. In such cases, the central party organisation merely “facilitates” a fair contest to serve the free choice of the final principals, the party members and the delegates that represent them in the party congress.
Vesa Koskimaa

Chapter 4. The Selection of Party Leaders in Germany

German parties are in the process of overhauling their ideas of membership participation and intra-party democracy. The electorally most successful parties since 1949, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), introduced open competition between several candidates that took place in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Both parties thus met the demands for more intra-party participation.
Uwe Jun, Simon Jakobs

Chapter 5. Understanding How Political Parties In Europe Select Their Leaders: The Italian Case

The Italian second republic—inaugurated with the 1994 parliamentary election—has been characterised by an alternation of two separate and mixed electoral systems, personalised parties united in pre-electoral coalitions, exceptionally high electoral volatility, and government change after in all six elections held between 1994 and 2018. The party system has been beset by division and sudden changes, several party splits, the birth of new parties and new political actors entering the parliament. As so often when studying Italian politics, it could be difficult to summarise into a clear and definite framework the peculiarities of the parties and their organisations. Rather than applying fixed rules stated in party statutes and regulations, Italian parties react to contingent external challenges by adopting pragmatic strategies, resulting in complex organisational settings and intra-party power dynamics.
Giulia Sandri, Antonella Seddone

Chapter 6. Party Leadership Selection in Latvia: Divergent Practices of Precursory Delegation

The pattern of political competition in Latvia has been notably stable. A majority of right-of-centre parties represent the interests of ethnic Latvians and faces a minority of left-of-centre parties claiming to advocate the interests of East Slavic minorities. However, actors in this pattern have changed notably. Every parliamentary election since the restoration of independence has generated at least one new party represented in the Latvian parliament, with the turnover of members of parliament oscillating between 25 per cent and 60 per cent.
Jānis Ikstens

Chapter 7. From Coronation to Bear-Pit: Leadership Selection in the Party Order and Justice

The aim of the chapter is to discuss the leadership selection process, including the formal and real stories, in Lithuania’s Party Order and Justice, from its foundation in March 2002 until October 2019.
Mindaugas Jurkynas

Chapter 8. How Political Parties Select Party Leaders in Poland: Party Leaders Decide and Party Members Endorse Their Decisions

Studies on political leaders in Poland have so far thoroughly analysed the process of voting and shown data concerning winners and losers (Hartliński 2011, 2013, 2015; Radecki 2015). An equally thorough insight has been obtained into various aspects of intra-party democracy, especially the position and role of leaders in all major parties (Bichta 2010; Sobolewska-Myślik et al. 2010; Hartliński 2012, 2014).
Maciej Hartliński

Chapter 9. The Rule of the Valberedning? Party Leader Selection in Sweden

The international trend towards more inclusive leader selection (Cross and Blais in Party Politics 18: 127–150, 2012) seems to have gone largely unnoticed by Swedish parties. At least on the surface, the process works as it has done for decades. Almost exclusively to Sweden, it centres on a valberedning, a selection committee. This committee is typically chosen by the formal selectorate of the party, the party congress. The job of the valberedning is to consider candidates and then to propose one of them as the new leader.
Nicholas Aylott, Niklas Bolin

Chapter 10. Steer or No Steer? The Selection of Party Leaders in Britain

This chapter applies Aylott and Bolin’s framework (in this volume) for analysing leadership-selection procedures, and their consequences for the scope and autonomy of party leadership, to the main parties in Great Britain (that is, excluding Northern Ireland). While describing the evolution of selection procedures since the 1960s, it addresses key questions about the process, including whether there are any steering agents as such, and, if so, who they are. It argues that while the major British parties lack true “heavy-handed” steering agents, they do have institutionalised procedures that narrow the field of choice before membership selectorates.
Paul Webb

Chapter 11. Patterns in Leader Selection: Where Does Power Lie?

In modern democracy, party leaders are key actors. Not only do they hold the highest offices of their organisations; they are also figureheads externally. Party leaders take centre stage in elections, parliamentary debates and in government formation. They are constantly present in the media; political news is simply incomplete without them.
Niklas Bolin, Nicholas Aylott


Weitere Informationen

Premium Partner