Multi-dimensional preferences in candidate selection? Evidence from a Conjoint Experiment among party leaders in Germany


Candidate selection is one of the most relevant tasks of parties and has importantconsequences for various aspects of political representation. While previous research has addressedmany important aspects of the candidate selection process, we know little about the questionof which candidate characteristics are preferred by party members. We address this researchgap by conducting a conjoint experiment among more than 300 local party leaders in Germany.In the experiment, potential candidates differed on various important dimensions regardingtheir socio-demographic background, prior political experience, local roots, and work within thepolitical party. We find that prior political experience and engagement within the party are themost important features. However, socio-demographic characteristics and deviation from theparty line also matter. These findings have implications for theories of descriptive representationas well as the impact of decentralization on party cohesiveness.

Under Review (The Journal of Politics)