• military coalitions;
  • military interventions;
  • political leaders;
  • leadership turnover;
  • troop withdrawal

Several studies have claimed that changes in the political leadership of a country affect foreign policy decision making. The following paper systematically tests this in the context of states' participation in military coalition operations. By building on previous theoretical models, the authors argue that new leaders may differ from their predecessors in that the former (i) have dissimilar preferences with regard to the involvement in military interventions, (ii) evaluate relevant information differently, and (iii) are less likely to be entrapped in intervention policies. Ultimately, the net effect of these factors should make it more likely that political leadership turnovers are associated with premature withdrawals from ongoing military coalitions. The theory is tested by quantitative analyses of newly collected data on military coalition operations in 1946–2001 and a qualitative case study. The authors find strong and robust support for their argument.