A new book Former Leaders in Modern Democracies: Political Sunsets edited by Kevin Theakston and Jouke de Vries was published last week.
What comes next for a former leader in a democracy – a Prime Minister or a President obliged to leave office because they have lost an election, come to the end of their constitutionally-fixed term, fallen ill, lost the backing of their party, or (more rarely) chosen to call it a day and voluntarily step down?
Covering the USA, Britain, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Israel, this book analyses the role, experience and political influence of former leaders in Western democratic states.
The book's comparative approach highlights factors of variation and coincidence between the single-country cases, which look at countries of different sizes and weights in the world; with a variety of constitutional, governmental and party systems and differing national cultures and contexts. Among the issues discussed in the collection are: whether there are broad historical phases and trends across the case studies; whether expectations of post-office rewards and activities affect leaders' behaviour in office and willingness to leave; how far political system variables as opposed to individual variables shape or determine the nature of post-office careers; how far differences in post-office roles are related to party differences, manner of exit from office, length of tenure, relations with successors, perceived success or failure in office, age and health factors; and how far former leaders learn from and copy the example of other former leaders.