Screening Out Disagreement? Candidate Selection Criteria and Preference Diversity in Parliamentary Debate

26.04.2021 - 12:00
Location : 
online via Zoom
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Prof. Zac Greene
Lecturer affiliation: 
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow

The zoom link can be requested at sek-b [at]

The pool of potential candidates and rules regulating their selection limit the diversity of MPs contained in parliamentary parties. Yet, procedures for selecting among potential candidates unequally equip party leaders for managing the diverse coalition of members. Selection procedures range from the abdication of control to voters to complete dominance by leaders. Differences in the degree of leader control alter the degree of freedom held by members to raise issues. Building on an intra-party politics perspective, we propose that variation in candidate selection rules influences the distribution of preferences represented in parties’ parliamentary delegations. We argue that parties with rules favoring the leadership will decrease the range of preferences over key issues by members of the parliamentary party. Greater diversity in preferences emerges when parties apply fewer restrictions on candidate participation. We add that the impact of the party’s internal selection rules will apply not only between parties, but also in the same party across venues with differing procedures. To test hypotheses from this perspective we exploit the difference in many European parties’ selection criteria of parliamentary candidates for the national and European parliaments. Using data on parties’ selection criteria and preferences expressed through their election campaigns, we compare the effect of parties’ election campaigns on the content of parliamentary speeches using a supervised multi-lingual scaling model for estimating preferences over European policy-making in 11 European countries between 2009 and 2019. Results from these analyses lend support for a theory that considers intra-party rules for decision-making from an institutional perspective.