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Presidents in business. Career and destiny of democratic leaders

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 June 2014

Fortunato Musella*
Social Sciences Vico Monte di Pietà 1, University of Naples Federico II, Naples 80141, Italy


Deep changes regard the political careers of democratic leaders. Until recently, becoming president or prime minister was the last step before retirement or withdrawal to an undemanding seat on the back benches. On the contrary recent heads of government are enthusiastically seeking alternative ways to capitalize on their prestige and contacts portfolio, often ending up in the world of business or international finance. There are many examples of such a trend, from Blair to Mulroney, from Schröder to Barak. This article provides an empirical analysis of the phenomenon, by examining a dataset of 441 leaders in 78 different democratic countries over a period dating from 1989 to 2012. Attention will be focused on the political background of the prime ministers and presidents, how long they stay in power, the average age of heads of government, what professional pursuits they are involved in after their term in office and what career model they follow. The article concludes by proposing a post-presidential model which indicates some of the current trends and illustrates how former leaders are gaining decision-making power and visibility.

Research Article
© European Consortium for Political Research 2014 

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