The role of geography in intra-party competition in list proportional representation systems

Project: Research


In the last decades, electoral reforms boosted importance of individual
politicians in list proportional representation (PR) systems. This institutional
personalization pertains to a general trend towards ‘personalization of
politics’, and leads scholars to study its broad effects on intra-party
competition and personal vote-seeking behavior. While empirical studies
already shed light on the role of individual- and electoral system-level
determinants, the impact of geographical context has largely been
neglected. After building an analytical framework which combines insights
from three subfields, I investigate the effects of geographical determinants
and candidate characteristics on intra-party competition in list PR systems
answering two research questions: (1) How does geographical context
affect intra-party competition? (2) What determines a candidate’s
preference vote distribution within the district? To this end, I build a large
cross-national dataset comprising information on more than 5.000
candidates in 3.584 municipalities in 123 electoral districts from four
countries. Specifically, the project focuses on two open list PR elections
(Greece 2019 and Finland 2019) and two flexible-list PR elections (Belgium
2014 and Austria 2017). This careful research design allows to examine the
role of party provided rank order (juxtaposing open list PR-flexible list PR)
and the single-multiple preference vote dichotomy on intra-party
competition. If voters can cast only one preference vote, intra-party
competition is a zero-sum game where local candidates compete for the
undividable support of local voters. Conversely, in systems where voters are
able to cast multiple preference votes, the level of intra-party competition is
considerably lower. Overall, the project develops our understanding of the
broader effects of geography on political representation and the
representational/campaign focus of election candidates.
Short titleGeo analysis of intra-party competition
Effective start/end date1/10/1830/09/19