The establishment of a 4 year term has been long established as the de facto precedent for term limits for a state/global influencer. It's cultural, and (perhaps a globally) integrated mindset.

That notwithstanding, I would like to focus on policy effectiveness.

Is there any research, or theory, that describes how international policy would be affected by adding (or subtracting) years to a president's tenure?


1 Answer 1


I'm not currently aware of any empirical research on the matter, but I would have to posit that an increased term length would lead to increased trust or durability (and of course consistency) in foreign policy. It is generally unlikely a president or other foreign leader would completely modify the method and style or priorities they hold internationally, and thus would allow for stability in agreements and similar efforts with other nations.

From a game theory perspective, in effect the longer the term in office the more theoretically repetitive the game is and thus strategies could equilibrate in the longer term. The longer the term length of the parties, the theoretically more stable agreements and outcomes could be as the players and their behaviors are known.

In totality, I'd argue the effectiveness would likely increase as term length increases because the ability to build trust and understand how the various parties operate would allow for specific implementations and standards, instead of merely generally guiding principals as could otherwise be known from the political environment or leader's previous history.

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    Feb 16, 2022 at 18:34
  • By your argument, having positions for life should lead to the most stability and effectiveness. I don't think that matches real world experience.
    – quarague
    Feb 16, 2022 at 20:10
  • @quarague You raise a good point, and my answer was by no means designed to be exhaustive. That said, I was speaking specifically to elective offices/ those with a finite term length. There is a difference between accountable/ elected officials and those with life terms. There's considerations like one getting entrenched in an old view or similar if they serve for life, for let's say 25 years, vs someone even serving 10 years. The elected officials often have other stakeholders and those they are accountable to, which is usually something lacked by those serving life terms.
    – Dot_plot21
    Feb 17, 2022 at 0:35
  • This only works in a situation where the President has near-absolute power (while in office). In the American system it is common for a President especially in the latter part of their term to have limited power due to a hostile Congress.
    – Stuart F
    Feb 17, 2022 at 10:26
  • That depends on the extent of their authority, and especially regarding world affairs the President or other head of state usually have plenary authority concerning global policy. Respectfully, the second part of your response is somewhat inaccurate as both because of the structure of the US system and has been held by Courts the President has almost unilateral authority concerning global affairs (excepting treaties, which the US rarely touches anyway). So most presidents etc, and especially in the US, do hold immense power (especially regarding global affairs) which is the specific question.
    – Dot_plot21
    Feb 18, 2022 at 4:56

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