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Do Candidate Selection Modes Matter for the Types of Political Elites? Evidence from the Belgian Case in 2014

Elites
Parliaments
Political Leadership
Political Parties
Representation
Candidate
Party Members
Quantitative
Audrey Vandeleene
Ghent University
Audrey Vandeleene
Ghent University

Abstract

Candidate selection is critical to politics (Hazan & Rahat 2010). While this statement has been widely shared in the academic literature, little empirical research actually tested the relationship between the selection methods and the outcome of the process, i.e. the type of political elites involved in electoral campaigns. This paper aims at showing how the modes of selection may impact the characteristics of the candidates selected by the parties. Three personal traits of the candidates are scrutinised in particular: their gender, their political seniority both in terms of campaign experience and of parliamentary experience and finally their geographical origin (i.e. their municipality of residence). The research investigates the processes of candidate selection in eleven Belgian political parties in the run-up to the May 2014 ‘mother of all elections’ where European, federal and regional elections were organised on the same day. 4319 individual candidates and 189 selection processes are quantitatively examined. The Paper highlights the differences in the mixes of profiles at the list level resulting from procedures involving exclusive versus inclusive selectorates as well as centralised versus decentralised processes of selection. It also explores to what extent the characteristics of the selectorates may impact the individual features of the candidates they select, according to a mirroring process (Niven, 1998). By doing so, it suggests that party politics is definitely relevant to politics in general, and to the composition of the political leadership in particular.