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date: 11 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter surveys the importance of leaders for political parties, looking both at studies on party organization as well as the electoral field. Perhaps surprisingly, leaders have not been at the centre of either party or election studies, although recent efforts have shown that scholars within political science are slowly coming to terms with the reality of ‘leaders mattering’. The chapter shows that the importance of leaders—and especially the concept of personalization or presidentialization—is not consensual either in the party or in the electoral studies literature, although greater unanimity seems to exist in the first rather than in the second field. Party organization studies have remained generalist and typological, whereas, in the electoral field, the research has moved decisively into research on the conditionality of leader effects. The challenge remains to combine the insights of both fields to understand more fully the context in which leaders exercise their leadership.

Keywords: leaders, parties, electoral behavior, personalization, presidentialization

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