Voluntary Withdrawals, Forced Resignations, Collective Retirements or Just Bad Fortune? A Competing Risks Analysis of Ministerial Turnover in the German Länder (1990-2010)

in German Politics and Society

This paper explores the determinants of ministerial duration within the German Länder between 1990 and 2010. In arguing that different terminal events ceasing ministerial tenures should be analyzed separately, it distinguishes four exit types: voluntary, forced, collective (ministers leaving office because their whole party does so) and exits that are neither volitional acts of the minister nor politically induced. Depending on the exit type, competing-risks Cox-models show different effects for one and the same variable on the hazard for ministerial turnover. Seniority in high-level politics for example helps not to be forced out of office while it has no effect on voluntary or collective exits. Heading an important ministry on the other hand increases the chances to rise to other positions in high politics or private business, but does not impact the other two hazards. The analysis furthermore shows that the principal-agent-logic known from Westminster systems with the prime minister being largely sovereign in hiring and firing cabinet members must be adapted to the German context of frequent coalition governments. In coalition governments, only ministers from the same party as the prime minister exhibit higher hazards for forced exits, while ministers from other coalition partners are much safer in that regard.