Library Dissertation Showcase

Leadership or policy? The extent to which the leadership of Boris Johnson impacted the success of the Conservative Party in the 2019 General Election

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2022

The influence a party leader has on voting behaviour is an area of study largely lacking in consensus. With this in mind, this dissertation considers Boris Johnson’s leadership in the 2019 British General Election to develop a greater understanding of how direct and indirect effects of a party leader can interact. An examination of the contrast between historical and contemporary approaches to leadership is explored. Theoretical concepts such as the ‘personalisation’ of politics and voter models, including the valence model, are analysed to understand further the impact a party leader can have. A focus on the context of the 2019 election, concentrating on the postulated key factors behind the Conservative victory, such as the prominence of Brexit, the failings of Labour, and the presentation of Johnson’s personality, are examined to build upon this understanding. Analysis of data from the British Election Study (BES) and You Gov, alongside focus group and interview insight, help to develop the established context further. Through the triangulation of data, this study finds that Johnson’s leadership did indeed matter but that it is important to consider the complexities of voting behaviour and not discount further factors that may determine an individual’s vote choice.

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