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Why Change a Winning Team? Explaining Post-Election Cabinet Reshuffles in Four Westminster Democracies

Fleming, TG; (2021) Why Change a Winning Team? Explaining Post-Election Cabinet Reshuffles in Four Westminster Democracies. Political Studies 10.1177/00323217211049293. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Incumbent prime ministers who win re-election often reshuffle their cabinet ministers. These post-election cabinet reshuffles have important implications for policymaking and present a puzzle: why would prime ministers alter the ‘winning team’ that has just received an electoral mandate? Existing literature has largely overlooked post-election reshuffles, so offers few compelling answers. At most, a plausible but under-theorised and untested conventional wisdom suggests that electoral success increases prime ministers’ authority over their ministers. This article thus provides the first systematic study of post-election cabinet reshuffles in single-party governments. It argues that re-elected prime ministers use a temporary increase in their authority to pre-empt future leadership challenges by moving or sacking cabinet rivals. Larger election victories should thus produce larger reshuffles. However, analysis of post-election cabinet reshuffles in four ‘Westminster’ democracies since 1945 shows no support for this expectation, suggesting that further work is needed to understand these important political events.

Type: Article
Title: Why Change a Winning Team? Explaining Post-Election Cabinet Reshuffles in Four Westminster Democracies
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/00323217211049293
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F00323217211049293
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 by Political Studies Association. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: cabinet reshuffles, executive politics, ministerial appointments, post-election reshuffles
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10136699
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