Who "Wins"? Determining the Party of the Prime Minister

Garrett Glasgow, Matt Golder, Sona N. Golder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Scopus citations


The prime ministership is the preeminent political post in parliamentary democracies. Yet few studies examine PM party choice, perhaps under the assumption that the choice is a simple function of party size. In this article, we argue that key strategic actors and the context in which government negotiations take place can play a critical role in PM party choice. We test our hypotheses using a mixed logit with random coefficients on an original data set comprising PM selection opportunities in 28 European countries. Our methodological approach allows us to incorporate qualitative concerns about heterogeneity and causal complexity into our analysis. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we find that the largest party is often disadvantaged when it comes to PM party choice, that some presidents play an influential role in choosing the PM, and that the value of being the incumbent depends on one's performance in office and how the previous government ended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)937-954
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

Cite this