Comparative Politics

B16 - Political Leaders, Power, and Presentation

Date: Jun 14 | Time: 08:30am to 10:00am | Location:

Picture-perfect: On the relationship between party leader visibility and voting during party leader elections: Clint Claessen (University of Basel), Stefanie Bailer (University of Basel), Maxime Walder (University of Geneva)
Abstract: Party leaders feature prominently on social media. As figureheads of their party, they are often depicted by their political party and party members. While the literature extensively covers social media strategy and campaign narratives, the actual visual appearance of party leaders in images is still under-explored. This paper seeks to fill this gap by arguing that party leader appearance is an indicator of internal political capital by providing analyses of all Instagram images from Canadian, German and British MPs posted during party leader elections from July 2019 to October 2022. We use a face verification classifier that measures how often party leaders are depicted on MPs’ social media and hypothesize that party leader appearance is driven by intra-party support, especially during party leader (de)selections. Our preliminary results reveal a strong relationship between visual party leader appearance and party leader selection outcomes. We contribute to literature on party leader selection in general, and on the relationship between internal political capital and personalized politics specifically.

Can’t get no Satisfaction: Investigating the Effects of Electoral Integrity on Political Elites’ Levels of Satisfaction with Democracy: Valere Gaspard (University of Ottawa), Benjamin Ferland (co-supervisor) (University of Ottawa), Benjamin Ferland (co-author) (University of Ottawa), Luc Turgeon (co-supervisor) (University of Ottawa)
Abstract: While the literature on citizens’ satisfaction with democracy (SWD) covers studies about how levels of citizens’ SWD is affected by their desired candidate or party winning or losing an election, representation and policy congruence, the quality of their government, and the electoral design of their system, the next step in understanding the concept of SWD is from the perspective of political elites. Political elites are major actors in democratic states that can influence the policy-positions and views of citizens, yet little research has been done to assess elites’ levels of SWD. To address this gap in the current scholarship, this study examines how electoral integrity and electoral managements bodies (EMBs) influence elites’ satisfaction with democracy? In particular, we expect electoral integrity to foster democratic satisfaction among elites, but this effect to be stronger among loser candidates than winners. We also expect that democratic satisfaction will be higher for elections with centralized or non-partisan EMBs, more than those with decentralized or partisan EMBs. We investigate this question in mobilizing Modules 2 (2013-2018) and 3 (2019-2024) of the Comparative Candidates Survey – an international project that surveys candidates running in national parliamentary elections in 20 countries – to measure elites’ democratic satisfaction, data from the Perception of Electoral Integrity datasets to evaluate electoral integrity, and data from the Electoral Management Survey to evaluate different characteristics and practices of 49 electoral management bodies. Our research will contribute to the literature examining satisfaction with democracy and political elites’ attitudes and behavior in democratic countries.

Turning Lemons into Lemonade: Positive Skills Development in Political Management: Simon Vodrey (Carleton University)
Abstract: Recognizing that political management is a type of management where there is a dearth of traditional human resources (HR) practices, training, and scholarly research, I examine how political management practitioners must foster the ability to do more with less and be more flexible than their corporate management counterparts. I also draw attention to the speed at which political management must be conducted, due in part to ever-quickening news cycles and the challenges posed by that speed for political practitioners. With that in mind, I ask the following research question: What advantages does the fluid style of management among political management practitioners create for skills development? To answer this research question, I use elite in-depth interviews with fourteen Canadian and American commercial marketers, political marketers, political strategists, political consultants, public opinion researchers, lobbyists, and political staffers. Answering that research question reveals two themes that can be painted as beneficial for the skills development of political management professionals: The first is the better management of speed which can be seen as being more prolific in political management personnel than in corporate management personnel. The second is that corporate management personnel could take lessons from political management personnel’s tendency to operate with lower levels of risk aversion.

The Power of Prime Ministers around the World: Expert Survey Results: Alex Marland (Acadia University), Eoin O'Malley (Dublin City University), Gala Palavicini Jauregui (Dalhousie University)
Abstract: How much power do prime ministers have? How does this power vary between individual officeholders, and across countries over time? In Fall 2023, we invited scholars in 22 countries with expertise in executive-level politics and parliamentary politics to participate in an online survey to assess the power held by PMs from 2000 to 2021 in their country of expertise, including the freedom to form a cabinet, exercise constitutional prerogatives, and implement preferred policies. This paper is a detailed account of the methodology and early findings, which are compared with those in a previous article (O’Malley 2007) to see how prime ministerial power has evolved since the 1990s, including new contexts such as changes in the gender composition of executive governance. The results identify trends of prime ministerial power across countries and across history within each country, and can be used to test theories within political science.