Personal Campaign Strategies and Political Representation

Research question/goal: 

The ongoing changes in the functioning of political parties stresses individual representatives as alternative linkages between citizens and the state. This project studied the election campaigns of individual party candidates regarding a number of problems that become relevant in this respect. It has put a special emphasis on campaign styles and on the following research questions: How can we systematically describe individualized election campaigns? How do they differ from party driven campaigns? To what degree are we able to observe individualized campaigns in European elections? Which factors foster, which other ones hinder the diffusion of individualized election campaigns? Based on two waves of the CCS questionnaire, surveys of individual candidates standing for office in national parliamentary elections were administered across Europe, and a third wave is in the field from 2018 onwards. These surveys are questioning parliamentary candidates of political parties which operate under very different incentive structures in order to investigate whether and how these mattered to their campaigns.
A comparative dataset including some 50 candidate surveys, conducted with the first wave questionnaire of the Comparative Candidates Survey (CCS), has been published by the Swiss data archive FORS, and an integrated data set of the 2nd wave of surveys is available as a first-release dataset. A number of journal articles and conference presentations have been published and a comparative book project on wave one surveys has been proposed to Routledge. The three editors of that book -- Lieven de Winter (Louvain and Brussels), Rune Karlson (Oslo) and Hermann Schmitt (Manchester and Mannheim) – have received a very favourable set of reviews for that book proposal and are looking forward to sign a book contract by the end of 2018.
Given the wealth of empirical evidence which has been assembled in the lifetime of the project, and the multitude of researchers in Germany and far beyond which have been analysing these data, its main findings are not easily summarised. What seems to be clear after more than a decade of empirical research into personalised campaigning is that European political parties remain to be the main agents of political representation. While personalisation of electoral campaigning does exist, there is no conclusive evidence that individual representatives have indeed replaced political parties as intermediaries linking citizens and the state.

Fact sheet

University of Mannheim, DFG, Fritz Thyssen Foundation
2005 to 2018
Data Sources: 
Geographic Space: 



Behnke, Joachim, Thomas Gschwend, Delia Schindler and Kai-Uwe Schnapp (Eds.) (2006): Methoden der Politikwissenschaft. Neuere qualitative und quantitative Analyseverfahren. Baden-Baden: Nomos. more