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Party Nomination Rules and Campaign Participation (WP-14-02)

Georgia Kernell

This study examines how political party organizations shape campaign participation in advanced industrialized parliamentary democracies. In some parties, members directly nominate candidates for their party's nomination. In others, selection is the sole responsibility of the party elite. Two countervailing arguments are presented: one stating that member participation will increase incentives to get involved in campaigns; the other contending that democratic nominations expose internal party divisions and depress participation. The paper also argues that a party's ideology, size, incumbency, and heterogeneity may influence participation. The hypotheses are tested using cross-national election surveys and original candidate selection data. Participation is measured in two ways: campaign activity and political persuasion. The results suggest that partisans are more likely to participate when elites, rather than members, select candidates. In addition, small and left-leaning parties are found to be more successful at mobilizing their core supporters, as are those parties currently in government.

Georgia Kernell, Assistant Professor of Political Science, and Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

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