Lawrence Ezrow, Tobias Böhmelt, Roni Lehrer, Hugh Ward
Follow the foreign leader? Why following foreign incumbents is an effective electoral strategy

Party Politics, 2021: 27, Heft 4, S. 716–729
ISSN: 1354-0688 (print), 1460-3683 (online)

Previous research suggests that political parties respond to left–right policy positions of successful foreign political parties (“foreign leaders”). We evaluate whether this is an effective electoral strategy: specifically, do political parties gain votes in elections when they respond to successful foreign parties? We argue that parties that follow foreign leaders will arrive at policy positions closer to their own (domestic) median voter, which increases their electoral support. The analysis is based on a two-stage model specification of parties’ vote shares and suggests that following foreign leaders is a beneficial election strategy in national election because it allows them to better identify the position of their own median voter. These findings have important implications for our understanding of political representation, parties’ election strategies, and for policy diffusion.