IntraPartyComp project: the study of personalisation in 33 democracies since the 2000s

In the last decades, electoral reforms have boosted importance of individual politicians in list proportional (PR) electoral systems. This general trend towards “personalization of politics” 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). While recent literature has permitted to better understand this trend both theoretically and conceptually, most of the literature has remained single-country studies. What is missing is a broad comparative empirical endeavour covering a wide range of 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 using two main indicators of intra-party competition (Gini coefficient and the effective number of candidates). The project uses a wide range of techniques of data-mining and data manipulation to handle the ambitious coverage of its comparative approach. Second, the project tests four ranges of hypotheses that would explain how the degree of intra-party competition varies according to (1) electoral systems, (2) structures of party competition, (3) patterns of candidate selection, and (4) over electoral time periods. Overall, the goal of this project is to build a comprehensive cross-sectional database that will be of valuable interest for a wide research community in social and political sciences.

The project is funded for three years by a supporting research grant F.R.S-FNRS (J.0057.21). It is hosted at the Research Institute Transitions (UNamur)

Work in progress

Dodeigne, J., & Pilet, J.-B.. “Intraparty competition effects on personalization in 33 democracies since the 2000s”

Put, G.-J., Pilet, J.-B., & Dodeigne, J., “Somewhere between open and closed, but where exactly? A new approach to classify flexible list PR electoral systems”.

Dodeigne, J., Pilet, J.-B., & Thijssen, P. Can voters correctly assess the electability of candidates in PR list systems?”