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Incumbent Renomination in Flexible-List PR Systems: Does Individual Popularity Matter?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government. Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES).ORCID iD: micsm790
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Regular elections are seen as the primary means for holding politicians accountable for their conduct. While the link between legislators' performance in office and re-election is easy to conceptualise and empirically test in majoritarian settings, studying the same phenomenon in proportional-representation (PR) systems poses a considerable challenge. Incumbents in PR systems can bypass the voters and remain in office if they secure a safe spot on a rank-ordered party ballot. This study investigates whether the institution of preference voting, which allows the voters to reshuffle the ballots by indicating their preference for one or more candidates, can facilitate individual accountability in PR systems where party accountability looms large. Using a detailed panel dataset containing all Czech incumbents elected between 1996 and 2017, the study investigates whether Czech party elites reward those incumbents who are successful in attracting preference votes despite having a relatively low ballot position. It is shown that electorally popular MPs get a considerable renomination premium for their popularity which is, however, facilitated by their readiness to uphold party unity. The study thus fails to conclusively establish that the institution of preference voting in PR systems facilitates individual accountability.

Keywords [en]
Flexible-list proportional representation, preference voting, accountability, Czech Republic
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-379683OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-379683DiVA, id: diva2:1297708
Available from: 2019-03-20 Created: 2019-03-20 Last updated: 2019-03-20
In thesis
1. Incumbent Renomination: Accountability and Gender Bias
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Incumbent Renomination: Accountability and Gender Bias
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Party recruiters in proportional-representation (PR) systems are forced to do what their majoritarian counterparts are not: they need to rank-order all their candidates on the party ballots based on whom they most wish to get elected. Consequently, new candidates and incumbents alike compete for a limited number of electable ballot slots. This means that incumbent legislators in PR settings are far from guaranteed an electable spot on the party ballot, but instead need to go through a new selection round ahead of every election. This dissertation offers a pioneering study of incumbent renomination in flexible-list PR settings. The aim is to investigate whether incumbents’ electoral and legislative performance forms the basis of the selection criteria used by party recruiters when renomination decisions are made. The dissertation relies on a wide array of unique data, including a panel dataset of all Czech legislators elected in seven consecutive elections between 1996 and 2017 as well as rich elite-interview and participant-observation data collected in the Slovak parliament. 

The three essays that comprise this dissertation broadly focus on two dimensions of incumbent renomination: accountability and gender bias. Essay I critically examines the potential role incumbent renomination plays in fostering individual accountability in PR systems where party accountability looms large. Empirical tests show that the candidates placed in non-electable ballot spots who succeed in attracting a large number of votes are indeed rewarded with a more electable ballot spot in the next election. Essays II and III examine whether incumbent renomination can provide the cure for the chronic underrepresentation of women in politics by offering an avenue where party selectors’ stereotypical views of women’s unsuitability for a political career can be challenged. The results disprove this expectation and show that female incumbents in both established and new parties get different returns on their electoral and legislative performance when renomination decisions are made. It is further shown that female incumbents continue to face structural constraints that limit their ability to excel in tasks that form the backbone of incumbents’ evaluation at renomination. 

Taken together, this dissertation demonstrates that the study of incumbent renomination can offer an indispensable contribution to the debates on accountability, delegation and representation in democratic systems. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2019. p. 60
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 165
Keywords
political recruitment, party politics, proportional representation, gender, incumbency, re-selection, accountability, representation, delegation, preference voting, flexible lists, Czech Republic, Slovakia.
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-379734 (URN)978-91-513-0606-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-05-10, Brusewitzsalen, Department of Government, Östra Ågatan 19, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-04-16 Created: 2019-03-20 Last updated: 2019-06-18

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