Mannheim social scientists: lead candidates make Europe more democratic

The European Union’s decision to ask each of the political groups to nominate a lead candidate (Spitzenkandidat) for the post of EU Commission President in the run-up to the 2014 European elections represented an important first step towards greater democracy in Europe. That is the conclusion reached by a study carried out by the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES) at the University of Mannheim and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

In their recently published study based on this data, Schmitt, Popa and their London colleague Sara Hobolt come to the conclusion that the electoral campaign waged by the lead candidates actually did have the desired effect. Personalization of the election significantly increased the likelihood of an individual taking part in the voting process. "In the case of Schulz, for example, recognizing him increased the likelihood of an individual casting his or her vote by 37 percent,” commented Hermann Schmitt. The effects were similar for those who recognized Jean-Claude Juncker.
(press release August 27, 2015; see PDF for full text)