Institut for Statskundskab

Campaigning on behalf of the party? Party constraints on candidate campaign personalisation

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This article analyses what makes political candidates run a party-focused or personalised election campaign. Prior work shows that candidates face incentives from voters and the media to personalise their campaign rhetoric and promises at the expense of party policy. This has raised concerns about the capacity of parties to govern effectively and voters’ ability to hold individual politicians accountable. This article builds on the literature on party organisation and considers the possible constraints candidates face from their party in personalising their election campaigns. Specifically, we argue that party control over the candidate nomination process and campaign financing constrains most political candidates in following electoral incentives for campaign personalisation. Using candidate survey data from the 2009 EP election campaign in 27 countries, we show how candidates from parties in which party officials exerted greater control over the nomination process and campaign finances were less likely to engage in personalised campaigning at the expense of the party programme. The findings imply that most parties, as central gatekeepers and resource suppliers, hold important control mechanisms for countering the electoral pressure for personalisation, and advance our understanding of the incentives and constraints candidates face when communicating with voters. We discuss how recent democratic reforms, paradoxically, might induce candidate personalisation with potential negative democratic consequences.
TidsskriftEuropean Journal of Political Research
Sider (fra-til)883-899
StatusUdgivet - 2018

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