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Leadership with Trustworthy Associates


Group members value informed decisions and hold ideological preferences. A leader takes a decision on their behalf. Good leadership depends on characteristics of moderation and judgment. The latter emerges (endogenously) via advice communicated by “trustworthy associates.” Trustworthy advice requires ideological proximity to the leader. A group may choose a relatively extreme leader with a large number of such associates. Paradoxically, this can happen though it is in the group’s collective interest to choose a moderate leader. To assess whether these insights persist when political groups compete, we embed our analysis in a model of elections. Each of two parties chooses a leader who implements her preferred policy if elected. We find that a party may choose an extreme leader who defeats a moderate candidate chosen by the opposing party. Our results highlight the importance of party cohesion and the relations between a leader and her party. These can be more important to electoral success than proximity of a leader’s position to the median voter.

Corresponding author
Torun Dewan is a Professor of Government London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London, UK, WC2A 2AE (
Francesco Squintani is a Professor of Economics Warwick University, Coventry, UK, CV4 7AL (
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We thank for their comments audiences at several seminars, including Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Chicago, Berkeley University, Princeton University, University of Rochester, and Washington University in St. Louis, and at several conferences, and Melissa Schwartzberg.

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American Political Science Review
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