Political Science Now

Political Dynasties and the Incumbency Advantage in Party-Centered Environments

Political Dynasties and the Incumbency Advantage in Party-Centered Environments

by Jon H. Fiva, BI Norwegian Business School and Daniel M. Smith, Harvard University

What explains the persistence of political dynasties in democracies? Recent studies have estimated a causal effect of incumbency on dynasty formation in candidate-centered electoral contexts in the United States and the Philippines. However, dynasties also exist in countries that use closed-list proportional representation—where votes are cast not for candidates but for parties, and thus where the underlying mechanism of name recognition of individual candidates should not theoretically carry the same sort of electoral relevance as it does in candidate-centered environments. In such party-centered contexts, it is less clear whether and how incumbency relates to the probability of forming a dynasty. We use candidate-level data and a regression discontinuity design to estimate the incumbency advantage and its relation to dynasty formation in the party-centered, closed-list proportional representation setting of Norway. The results indicate that the incumbency advantage exists even in this party-centered environment; however, in contrast to recent findings for the United States and the Philippines, we find no evidence that incumbency is important to the formation of dynasties. This finding underscores the need for more research into the role of internal party organizational networks in the perpetuation of political dynasties.

Read the full article in First View.

American Political Science Review , First View /Published online: 22 February 2018