The costs and benefits of governing in a multi-level system

Matthias Scantamburlo*, Davide Vampa, Ed Turner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years the ‘cost of governing’ has significantly increased for some mainstream political parties. In a context of financial uncertainty, multiple crises and growing constraints exerted by global forces, being a ‘natural’ party of government is no longer regarded as an electoral advantage. This is particularly true for parties that have moved from a position of clear dominance within ruling coalitions to a more subordinate role. In this article, focusing on the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and using an original dataset, we aim to provide a more nuanced assessment of the effects of incumbency by examining regional electoral performance since 1990. It appears that sub-national incumbency can be beneficial in regional elections, especially when a party faces significant costs of governing at the national level. However, this advantage is only applicable if the party holds a leading position in the regional executive. On the contrary, being a junior coalition partner at both national and regional levels may further exacerbate electoral decline for the party.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2309178
JournalPolitical Research Exchange
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.


  • Cost of governing
  • SPD
  • incumbency
  • multi-level system
  • territorial politics


Dive into the research topics of 'The costs and benefits of governing in a multi-level system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this