Electoral Systems and Party Personnel: The Consequences of Reform and Non-Reform

Research question/goal: 

The principal question we address in this collaborative research project is: How do electoral systems influence the type of candidates political parties select to run for political office, to serve in legislative committees and to enter governmental positions? One of the innovations of the project is to connect the study of candidate recruitment (candidate quality) with the study of how positions in legislatures are allocated (legislative organization) under the unifying conceptual rubric of party personnel strategy. The MZES research group is responsible for compiling information about candidates for the German Bundestag. Other countries in the collaborative research project are the UK, Portugal, Lithuania, Ukraine, New Zealand, Bolivia and Japan. The completed German database contains almost 10000 candidate-observations, for more than 7000 unique individuals of all major parties (Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Social Democratic Party (SPD)) and minor parties (Christian Social Union (CSU), Free Democratic Party (FDP), Alliance ‘90/The Greens (Green Party) and the Left Party). Among all candidate-observations, about 3000 are stemming from winning candidates (i.e., legislator-observations). We have compiled candidate information for 5 elections: 1983, 1987, 1998, 2005 and 2009. Variables correspond to three major categories: first, candidate biographical information, second, district characteristics and candidate vote totals, and third, party, committee, and cabinet positions. The data collection relied on three sources. All the biographical variables and the party and cabinet position variables are based on Kürschner’s Volkshandbuch. The committee variables were taken from Biographisches Handbuch der Mitglieder des Deutschen Bundestages 1949-2002, edited by Rudolf Vierhaus and Ludolf Herbst with Bruno Jahn, Munich 2002/2003. All other variables are based on data provided by the Federal Returning Officer. While the data collection efforts could be finished in the fall of 2011, data analysis is still ongoing.

Fact sheet

NSF (U.S.)
2008 to 2011
Data Sources: 
German electoral-district statistics, MP candidates’ characteristics
Geographic Space: 
Germany (UK, Portugal, Lithuania, Ukraine, New Zealand, Bolivia, Japan)