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customer-friendly and reputable, it need not necessarily score highest in the market on any one of these.Most commonly, the leader is subject to continual attack, although from different quarters and with different strategies. Three strategic directions are appropriate for the market leader (see Table I): expansion of the total market,
35expansion of market share and defence of market share. Typical dangers for the leader lie in discontinuous technological change, dissatisfied customers, fragmentation and losing market share to new ventures. Market leaders in politics are seldom able to expand their appeal withoutrisk. Occasionally a whole new group of electors will become available, such as 18 year olds or women. Similarly, a post-independence electorate may to some extent be considered a new market because of the very marked discontinuity with the old regime. For the most part, however, market leaders already appeal to a very broad spectrum of the electorate.The market leader has to balance elements of continuity and change. The party’s voters will expect some aspects of the leader’s appeal to be consistent. At least, some central party policies and symbols must appear unchanged even if the continuity is more apparent than real. By the same token, however, any market leader’s position would be threatened if it did not also give the impression of responsiveness to new preferences. An inherent problem for leaders is the
36reconciling of apparent conflicts among its voters: tax concessions to middle class property owners, for example, and high welfare provision for the less well off. Too explicit a trade-off of interests may risk alienating a significant group.The Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) grew out of the Mexican revolution and has been the leader since 1929. Its position has, however, been eroding for some years, as a challenger, Partido de Accion Nacional (PAN), has become a credible alternative. The PRI’s dilemma mirrors that of many leaders. It must choose between an aggressive response to a currently much smaller challenger and arriving at an accommodation to preserve its dominance while ceding some market share (Mainwaring and Sculley, 1995).Some leaders are in a vulnerable position because they have difficulty in sustaining their offer to the electorate. This appears to have happened to several parties in the 1990s. Canada, Italy and Japan all provide examples. In Canada, the leader, the Progressive Conservative Party, was all but eclipsed in 1993. In the same year the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party also lost ground and thefollowing year saw the demise of the Christian Democrats in Italy. In each of these cases, the leader had been or became dependent on a network of patronage that had become fragile. The leader’s products and organization need to be regularly reviewed.