How to overcome the power of incumbency in election campaigns
How can challenger candidates win elections against incumbents? A new book by Dr. Louis Perron answers this question by systematically comparing four successful challenger candidates with four unsuccessful ones. The analysis includes both a successful and an unsuccessful campaign each from the USA (Bill Clinton, John Kerry), Germany (Gerhard Schröder, Rudolf Scharping), Brazil (Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva 2002 and 1998) and the Philippines (Joseph Estrada, Fernando Poe Jr.). Despite the fact that the candidates operate in totally different political systems, the four successful opposition candidates do indeed share a number of strategies regarding the campaign message, positioning, timing, preparation and campaign management. The book is based on thorough literature research and interviews with key political consultants from the four studied countries. It is geared towards scholars of political marketing and students of politics. Being informative and engaging, it is also a good read for candidates, political operators and politically interested citizens.


"Louis Perron's PhD thesis breaks new ground. In his highly original study, the author analyzes how challengers of incumbents can succeed in getting elected, in spite of the natural advantage enjoyed by incumbents. Guided by a powerful design, Louis Perron compares a successful and an unsuccessful incumbent from the left in four different countries — the US, Germany, Brazil and the Philippines, which correspond to the four existing general campaign styles. The empirical test of the hypotheses is based on an impressive number of interviews with political consultants conducted by the author personally in the four countries under study. The results are presented in a highly accessible way, such that the various campaigns really come alive. Louis Perron's thesis is in many ways highly original and constitutes a major contribution to the comparative study of election campaigns."

Prof. Dr. Hanspeter Kriesi
Institute for Political Science, University Zurich

Center for comparative and international studies(CIS)

National Center of Competence in Research
Challenges to Democracy in the 21st century

"Anyone considering themselves a political consultant should hastefully move to read “How to overcome the power of incumbency in elections campaigns” by Louis Perron.  It is the best book on political communication I have read in over 10 years. It provides a framework for any political consultant or candidate when considering challenging an incumbent.  The extraordinary item offered by this research is the universality of its findings.  Using examples from the United States, Germany, Brazil, and the Philippines, one begins to see the common denominators needed to communicate an effective call for change.  This book should be required reading for all political campaign management schools.  I have two hopes  : 1) I hope my competitors do NOT read this research and 2) I hope there is a follow up book -  I find myself wanting more."

Alex Patton
Ozean Consulting Inc., A Republican Consulting Firm
Gainesville FL, USA.

"How to overcome the power of incumbency in election campaigns" will be part of the standard literature on elections campaigns for years to come. One of Perron's strengths is his ability to describe his findings in a clearly structured and concise, yet engaging and informative manner. Readers new to the topic will gain an excellent overview over the wide range of existing research in the field. Being one of only a few studies to compare election campaigns in settings as diverse as those covered by Perron, its detailed description of the research design used was of particular benefit to my own research. By convincingly bridging campaign research and practice this study contributes to theory building as well as hands- on practical approaches in campaigning, providing new insights for scholars and campaign practitioners alike. Reading this book, I found myself inspired, entertained and educated at the same time.

Vera Altmeyer
Associated PhD candidate at the Nordic Institute of
Asian Studies (NIAS), Copenhagen, Denmark, and
PhD candidate at the University of Hamburg, Germany.

In this book:

Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton is probably one of the most skilled politicians alive. Few politicians survived as many political attacks as he did.

Joseph Estrada
The first day in office as Vice President of the Philippines, Joseph Estrada started to prepare his presidential bid. By the time the official campaign started, he was unbeatable.
Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Schröder first beat the party chairman for the nomination as top candidate.Then, he became German chancellor and ended sixteen years of conservative rule.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ran for president of Brasil three times and lost three times.
After a strategic overhaul, his fourth bid was successful and Lula became Brazil’s first president from the Worker’s Party.