Party organisation and the party-delegate style of representation

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Caroline Close and Thomas Legein in collaboration with Conor Little
Sage Journals
Party Politics


Politicians perceive their representative role in a variety of ways: as a delegate of their party, a delegate of voters, or a trustee who exercises their mandate independent of any external principal. Existing research finds that the tendency to adopt a specific style of representation depends on system-level institutions and individuals’ political experience and profile. The influence of the party organisational context remains little-understood. This study contributes to filling this gap by examining the effects of parties’ resources and intra-party distribution of power on the prevalence of party-delegates among their candidates. Drawing on data from the Comparative Candidates Survey (CCS) and the Political Party Database (PPDB) we find that party organisation shapes representation in a way that has not previously been demonstrated: parties with more resources and parties in which members have the final say in candidate selection have a higher proportion of party-delegates among their candidates. This demonstrates the centrality of party organisation to representation.