When Power Changes Hands: The Political Psychology of Leadership Succession in Democracies



Leadership succession in democratic governments and political parties is an ubiquitous but relatively understudied phenomen, where the political becomes intensely personal and vice versa. This article outlines the puzzles that leadership succession poses to political analysts, reviews the literature, and offers a conceptual framework deconstructing the process in terms of a flow from succession contexts and triggers via the role choices of key participants (incumbents and aspiring successors) through to the eventual succession outcomes. It concludes by presenting a series of testable hypotheses to describe and explain leadership successions.