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Black and white photo of Hanna Bäck. Photo.

Hanna Bäck


Black and white photo of Hanna Bäck. Photo.

War, Performance and the Survival of Foreign Ministers


  • Hanna Bäck
  • Jan Teorell
  • Alexander von Hagen-Jamar
  • Alejandro Quiroz Flores

Summary, in English

Are foreign ministers punished for their performance in office, or when the country loses a war? The literature has increasingly recognized the importance of individual leaders when explaining foreign policy outcomes. Several scholars have focused on the survival of leaders as an important predictor of war onset, which has created an interest in predicting the survival of heads of governments. We contribute to this literature by shifting the focus to the survival of other important politicians in cabinet – foreign ministers. We hypothesize that the survival of foreign ministers depends on their performance in office, and that they are less likely to survive when there is a high level of conflict or after the country loses an armed conflict. We also hypothesize that the tenures of foreign ministers with a military, diplomatic or political background, are less affected by the conflict situation. We evaluate and find support for several of our hypotheses using original historical data (during the “long 19th century”) on foreign ministers’ background and reasons for leaving office for five countries with very different experiences with conflict and war; Austria, Prussia/Germany, Sweden, the UK, and the US.


  • Department of Political Science

Publishing year





STANCE Working Paper Series





Document type

Working paper


Department of Political Science, Lund University


  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


  • foreign ministers
  • foreign policy
  • policy outcomes
  • survival of leaders
  • war onset
  • 19th century
  • historical data
  • Sweden
  • Austria
  • Prussia
  • Germany
  • USA
  • UK




  • State-Making and the Origins of Global Order in the Long Nineteenth Century and Beyond