The main purpose of this paper is to detect the reasons for party leaders' persistence or departure from the office, starting from the moment they are selected or re-selected. More specifically, we try to assess which (if any) characteristics of the leadership race (LR) called to appoint (or re-appoint) the party leader, in combination with other conditions, could favour leadership re-selection in office at the end of the term, rather than a more or less forced early departure. To this end, we have investigated all the LRs promoted by both bigger and smaller parties in four Western European countries over the last three decades. Bridging the literature on leadership selection and leadership survival, we built a theoretical framework that allowed us to turn to an original methodological approach in the field qualitative comparative analysis to unravel asymmetrical, equi-final, and conjunctural causation by looking at the combinations of conditions leading to the outcome, namely re-selection or departure from the office. Specifically, we identified five main conditions which are likely to affect the outcome, both alone and in combination with each other. whether there is an outgoing leader running for re-election (incumbency); a broad inclusiveness of the LR called to appoint the party leader; large victory (namely low competitiveness for contested LR or high approval rates for coronation of a single candidate); participation in government during the leadership tenure; and party electoral support (big' mainstream vs. 'small' niche/challenger parties).
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