The Effect of Candidate Electoral Experience on Ballot Placement in List Proportional Representation Systems

Gert-Jan PUT, Gertjan Muyters, Bart Maddens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article investigates how candidate experience in previouselections, measured by the number of prior candidacies, affects ballot placement in list PR systems. We argue that selectorates find experienced candidates attractive because of proven loyalty and higher voter recognition. Moreover, prior candidacies strengthen candidates’ familiarity with intra-party selection processes. Returning candidates, however, also risk becoming victims of a seniority trap: after not succeeding to access realistic positions after a number of elections, additional candidacies become harmful as selectorates lose interest. Using data on 18,393 candidacies by 9,905 candidates of parties in Flanders (Belgium) (1987-2019), we run logit and Cox models to test the hypothesized curvilinear effect of prior candidacies on access to realistic positions. Both approaches lead to similar outcomes, confirming that experience positively affects ballot placement but with decreasing marginal utility. Our findings have important implications for career strategies and contribute to knowledge on nomination processes and candidate turnover.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages31
JournalWest European Politics
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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