Parties as Disciplinarians: Charisma and Commitment Problems in Programmatic Campaigning

James R. Hollyer, Marko Klašnja, Rocío Titiunik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We study how parties balance the benefits of disciplined programmatic campaigning with the electoral appeal of charismatic but potentially unfaithful candidates. We incorporate the well-known collective action problem arising from candidates' inability to fully internalize the fruits of programmatic brand building. Although parties may strategically use promotions to induce brand building efforts, we show that the party may be unable to commit to such a promotion scheme when the electoral returns to candidate charisma are high. We further demonstrate how electoral volatility and parties' ingroup loyalties shape their commitment to reward brand building. Volatility increases the focus on candidate charisma and decreases programmatic campaigning, but only among parties with weak group attachments. Parties with loyal partisans place emphasis on both candidate charisma and programmatic messaging. Empirical analyses of cross-national data and quantitative and qualitative case studies in Brazil, Austria, and Spain are consistent with our predictions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-92
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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