Local preferences in candidate selection. Evidence from a Conjoint Experiment among party leaders in German


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

Forthcoming: Party Politics