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Dynasties and Democracy

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Daniel M. Smith
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We investigate whether politicians whose family relatives previously served in parliament and cabinet enjoy a competitive “legacy advantage” in progressing from the backbenches to cabinet. This advantage may stem from two potential mechanisms: a direct effect attributable to the informational advantages of legacies or an indirect effect that operates through greater electoral strength. We evaluate the relative contribution of each mechanism using candidate-level data from Irish parliamentary elections and cabinets from 1944 to 2016. Our results reveal that politicians with a family history in cabinet do enjoy an advantage in cabinet selection, and that this advantage cannot be attributed simply to greater electoral popularity.1