The costs and benefits of governing in a multi-level system

Matthias Scantamburlo*, Davide Vampa, Ed Turner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In recent years the ‘cost of governing’ has significantly increased for some mainstream political parties. In a context of financial uncertainty, multiple crises and growing constraints exerted by global forces, being a ‘natural’ party of government is no longer regarded as an electoral advantage. This is particularly true for parties that have moved from a position of clear dominance within ruling coalitions to a more subordinate role. In this article, focusing on the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and using an original dataset, we aim to provide a more nuanced assessment of the effects of incumbency by examining regional electoral performance since 1990. It appears that sub-national incumbency can be beneficial in regional elections, especially when a party faces significant costs of governing at the national level. However, this advantage is only applicable if the party holds a leading position in the regional executive. On the contrary, being a junior coalition partner at both national and regional levels may further exacerbate electoral decline for the party.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2309178
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalPolitical Research Exchange
Issue number1
Early online date31 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • cost of governing
  • incumbency
  • multi-level system
  • territorial politics
  • SPD


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