IntraPartyComp: The study of personalization in 33 democracies since the 2000s

Jérémy Dodeigne, Jean-Benoit Pilet, Gert-Jan Put

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n the last decades, electoral reforms have boosted importance of individual politicians in list proportional (PR) electoral systems. This general trend towards “personalization of politics” (Renwick & Pilet 2016; Passarelli, 2020) leads scholars to study its broad effects on intra-party competition and personal vote-seeking behaviour. Indeed, particularly in list PR electoral systems, access to elected office not only depends upon inter-party competition (number of seats allocated to the party list), but it is furthermore contingent on the nature of intra-party competition (candidates emerging vis-à-vis other co-partisan candidates).
According to Musella and Webb (2015: 226), “the century that has just started will be the age of personalization, just as the previous one was the century of mass collective actors—a trend that political science has a duty to consider with greater attention”. Indeed, while personalization of politics is not - per se - a threat to democracy, various authors have underlined the negative effects it conveys. Some of the regular concerns are (Rahat & Kenig 2018): the increased fractionalization of the political parties and the government instability it creates; the “vicious circle” of the development authoritarian figures (especially in new democracies); or the inability of societies to articulate (legitimate) collective actions over individual interests.
While the growing literature of personalization of politics has boosted the publication of conceptual and theoretical scholarship in the recent years, empirical findings on its impact upon intra-party competition remain scarce with often disputed conclusions. In particular, most of the literature has been based upon single-country studies. What is missing is a broad comparative endeavour covering many democracies. This project precisely aims at establishing the first systematic comparative database of intra-party competition in 33 democratic countries of the world using (semi-)open list PR systems since the early 2000s. First, this research project will empirically describe the dispersion of preference votes between electoral candidates over time and across countries. Second, the project seeks to explain how institutions, political parties and candidates’ characteristics and time periods impact upon the intra-party competition observed.
Original languageFrench
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2021

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