The Selection and Tenure of Foreign Ministers Around the World

Hanna Bäck, Alejandro Quiroz Flores, Jan Teorell

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Foreign ministers are prominent actors in foreign affairs, often second only to heads of government in their influence. Yet, despite the growing awareness of the importance of key actors, and their backgrounds, in the study of international relations, foreign ministers remain understudied. In this Element, we make an important empirical contribution by presenting an original dataset on the personal and professional background of foreign ministers, spanning thirteen countries and more than 200 years. We use these data to answer three questions: who are the foreign ministers, why are foreign ministers with particular features appointed, and why do some foreign ministers have longer tenure than others? We find that foreign ministers tend to be men of politics who are appointed both on the basis of their affinity to, and to complement the experiences of, the head of government. We also find that foreign ministers stay longer in office when they perform well or are expected to do so, but that they are more likely to lose their posts when conditions make heads of government more prone to 'pin blame' on them to deflect criticism from foreign policy failures.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781009441773
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Feb 2024

Publication series

NameElements in International Relations
PublisherCambridge University Press


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