Scholarly article on topic 'Winning over voters or fighting party comrades? Personalized constituency campaigning in Austria'

Winning over voters or fighting party comrades? Personalized constituency campaigning in Austria Academic research paper on "Political Science"

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Electoral Studies
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{Campaigns / "Candidate behaviour" / Personalization / "Electoral systems" / "Political parties"}

Abstract of research paper on Political Science, author of scientific article — Nikolaus Eder, Marcelo Jenny, Wolfgang C. Müller

Abstract This article analyses constituency campaigning and personalization when electoral system and party organizational incentives conflict. Providing the first study of candidate campaign behaviour in Austria we show that a sizeable number of candidates in national elections engage in personalized rather than party-centred campaigns. Focussing on behavioural indicators of ‘personalized’ campaigning, we find that individual motivation and resources play an important role in how candidates conduct their campaigns. Factors such as experience in political office, the probability of winning a seat, candidate goal choice (self- or party-promotion), the district characteristic (urban or rural) and party affiliation influence the numbers of hours spent on campaigning and the kind of campaign resources candidates use and value most.

Academic research paper on topic "Winning over voters or fighting party comrades? Personalized constituency campaigning in Austria"

Electoral Studies xxx (2014) 1-13


Winning over voters or fighting party comrades? Personalized constituency campaigning in Austria

Nikolaus Eder, Marcelo Jenny, Wolfgang C. Müller*

University of Vienna, Department of Government, Rooseveltplatz 3/1, 1090 Wien, Austria


This article analyses constituency campaigning and personalization when electoral system and party organizational incentives conflict. Providing the first study of candidate campaign behaviour in Austria we show that a sizeable number of candidates in national elections engage in personalized rather than party-centred campaigns. Focussing on behavioural indicators of 'personalized' campaigning, we find that individual motivation and resources play an important role in how candidates conduct their campaigns. Factors such as experience in political office, the probability of winning a seat, candidate goal choice (self- or party-promotion), the district characteristic (urban or rural) and party affiliation influence the numbers of hours spent on campaigning and the kind of campaign resources candidates use and value most.

© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Electoral Studies

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Article history:

Received 18 October 2012

Received in revised form 7 October 2013

Accepted 16 March 2014

Keywords: Campaigns Candidate behaviour Personalization Electoral systems Political parties

1. Introduction

Elections pit parties and ideas against each other. They can be consequential for the direction of public policy, who leads the country as the chief executive, and determine a nation's fate. Election contenders often frame the choice of voters in such stark terms. More immediately, however, general elections concern who obtains seats in parliament. Provided that the office of a Member of Parliament (MP) is sufficiently attractive, we can expect the candidates for these offices to take a very active part in the campaign. Yet for most democracies we know very little about this side of elections. While systems that employ single-member constituencies and majoritarian rules have attracted a fair amount of research on constituency level campaigns (e.g. Jacobson, 1978; Whiteley and Seyd, 1994; Denver and Hands, 1997; Johnston and Pattie, 2006; Fisher and Denver, 2008), multi-member systems with proportional representation have largely been spared (notable

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +43 1 4277 49701. E-mail address: (W.C. Müller). 0261-3794/® 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

exceptions include Benoit and Marsh, 2008; Gorecki and Marsh, 2012).

At the same time, the vanishing of sharp ideological divisions, the decrease in class voting, and the decline of party identification have made personalization a prominent theme in electoral research. In the words of Karvonen (2010: 4), the 'core notion of personalization is that individual political actors have become more prominent at the expense of parties and collective identities'. While many contributors to the literature seem convinced of the increasing importance of personalization (e.g. Dalton, 2000; McAllister, 2007), others are more sceptical (Adam and Maier, 2010; Karvonen, 2010; Kriesi, 2012). With regard to party leaders, the difference is between identifying a secular trend toward an increasing weight of the top candidates' qualities upon the voting decision and seeing ups and downs in the relevance of leaders, depending on the supply of suitable personalities and the issue agenda. Moreover, the personalization literature bifurcates between those who focus exclusively on party leaders and the contenders for chief executive office (e.g. Wattenberg, 1991; Brettschneider, 2002; King, 2002; van Holsteyn and Andeweg, 2010; Stevens et al., 2011), and those who see

personalization as a much broader phenomenon. As Karvonen (2010: 41) has put it, 'from the point of view of the personalization thesis, the study of individual candidates is just as relevant as the focus on party leaders (see also Zittel and Gschwend, 2008; Balmas et al., 2012). Relevance for answering a research question, of course, is not the same as the relevance of explaining real world phenomena such as electoral results. McAllister (2013), for instance, has raised doubt with regard to the candidates' effectiveness in Australian constituency campaigns compared to party factors.

Notwithstanding the potential relevance of personalization in constituency campaigns, research on most democracies and especially on list-PR systems is only beginning to emerge (e.g. Karlsen and Skogerbo, 2013). In these systems, the fate of candidates is indissolubly tied to that of their parties. Yet, in addition to candidates' concerns for their parties' electoral performances, individual goals can gain prominence.

We proceed as follows: In the next section we outline the rationale for personalized campaigning. We also introduce the Austrian case. Traditionally, this country has been an extremely party-centred system. Yet in 1992, electoral reform considerably strengthened incentives for electoral personalization. There is thus considerable tension between the traditional normative expectations of the parties as organizations and established behavioural patterns on one side, and the new institutional features on the other. Moreover, the interplay of electoral rules and party characteristics provides different groups of candidates with different incentives for personalized campaigning. Building upon this, we formulate our theoretical expectations and hypotheses. After describing our data and methodological approach, we move on to two empirical sections. In the first section we describe candidate goals. Even when pitted against party goals we find personal goals a prominent motivation among the serious contenders for public office that we surveyed in our study. These goals constitute an independent variable in subsequent analyses. Turning to our primary concern -the analyses of personalized campaign behaviour - we try to explain individual campaign effort, the importance of personalized campaign means as well as the use of resources (staff and budget) to run a personalized campaign. In so doing, we investigate what Balmas et al. (2012) called 'behavioural personalization' - individualized campaign activities that distinguish themselves from collective party actions.

2. The rationale for personalized campaigning

In this paper we focus on personalized campaigns and the campaign behaviour of individual candidates. According to Zittel and Gschwend (2008, 980) individualized campaigns are characterized by 'candidate-centred campaign organization, a candidate-centred campaign agenda and candidate-centred means of campaigning'. Their conceptualization is ideal-typical, in the sense that it describes one end of a continuum with party-centredness being the other one.

2.1. Electoral system incentives for personalized campaigning

The electoral system 'affect[s] the extent to which individual politicians can benefit by developing personal reputations distinct from those of their party' (Carey and Shugart, 1995: 417-418, see also Grofman, 2005). In a nutshell, the relevant literature on electoral systems suggests that the presence of the following factors encourages individualized behaviour of candidates (Carey and Shugart, 1995; Shugart, 2001; Karvonen, 2010, 2011). In each of the four dimensions, our examples are not exhaustive and listed in descending order: (1) A large amount of voter-control over the ballot (achieved through compulsory and open primaries, allowing for the voters' writing-in of candidates not pre-selected by the parties in general elections, etc.). (2) Candidate-centred votes (votes cast for individual candidates rather than party lists, preference votes for individual candidates on party lists). (3) Candidate-centred vote counting (making votes cast for individual candidates the only criterion for seat allocation (open lists) or preferring candidates who have reached a threshold of preference votes over party list candidates (flexible lists)). (4) Small electoral districts when voters cast party votes (which will benefit the candidates immediately) and large electoral districts if the voters cast preference votes (providing candidates with an incentive 'to stand out in a crowded field of co-partisans' (Shugart, 2001, 183).

2.2. Party organizational incentives for personalized campaigning

In party democracies, party organizational factors impact their candidates' campaign strategies. In short, we expect regionalized and factionalized parties to encourage such behaviour. Although party regional organizations and factions are, like parties, collectives, the strategies of their candidates might be individualized in the sense of being different from a common party strategy. Another factor is the parties' respective organizational culture that, in turn, might relate to ideology. In short, we expect parties with a more individualistic worldview to constitute a more favourable environment for individualized campaigning.

2.3. The Austrian case

The present study is the first systematic attempt at understanding campaigning in Austria from the perspective of individual candidates. This perspective is at odds with Austria having been a party democracy par excellence over the post-war period. Its parties have developed encompassing membership organizations with a dense net of local branches and a network of subsidiary organizations (Müller, 1994; Luther, 1999). Elections have been fought along party lines, candidates recruited within parties (resulting in a large share of party or public sector employees among office holders), public offices filled with party representatives, and their decisions have been made according to party lines. Party cohesion in parliament approaches 100 per cent. In short, parties have been strong organizations in their own right and a far cry from functioning as vehicles for individual politicians. The

N. Eder et al. / Electoral Studies xxx (2014) 1-13

organizational cultures of the major parties traditionally have reflected that. Generations of Austrian politicians had been socialised to deny personal ambition and to picture themselves as loyal agents of their parties rather than political entrepreneurs with individual goals (Gerlich and Kramer, 1969, 106-108; Knoll and Mayer, 1976, 59-68). From a traditional perspective, Austria would thus rank among the least likely cases to show personalized behaviour of parliamentary candidates.

While many of these features have survived until today, Austria has also been affected by the decline of party loyalty among voters and increasingly diminishing membership since the early 1980s. This resulted in previously unknown levels of electoral volatility since the mid 1980s (e.g. Kritzinger et al., 2013; Plasser and Bischof, 2008). Radically transformed parties (such as the Freedom Party, FPÖ) and new parties (such as the Greens, the Liberal Forum, LF - a 1993 splinter from the FPÖ -, and the Alliance for the Future of Austria, BZÖ - a 2005 splinter from the FPÖ) were the main beneficiaries of this development.

One of the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and People's Party (ÖVP) reactions to these challenges was an electoral reform enacted in 1992. Its main goal was to signal the major parties' commitment to bridging the emerging gap between citizens and politicians by increasing opportunities to participate in electoral politics. However, the SPÖ and ÖVP also anticipated to electorally benefit from the reform in light of one particular competitive advantage vis-à-vis the other parties: having strong organizations 'on the ground' and locally rooted MPs, often combining their seat in parliament with the post of a mayor or deputy mayor. In contrast, the new or radically transformed parties were still in the process of establishing themselves locally. Their electoral success was seen largely tied to their presence in the national media. Indeed they often had national leaders, in particular Jörg Haider (FPÖ, later BZÖ), who commanded great communication skills and reached out to a large segment of the electorate. Through the 1992 electoral reform, the major parties aimed at balancing their disadvantages in the national arena by increasing the electoral relevance of their organizational strengths 'on the ground', the local roots of their representatives, and the services they provide to the regions (Müller et al., 2004).

Some of the proponents of the reform hoped that vigorous competition for constituency seats between the two major parties might lead to a 'crowding-out' of the smaller parties. They also expected that competition between individual candidates for preferential votes would lead to increased campaign efforts on their part with positive externalities for their party, as each preferential vote is also a party vote.

Such claims regarding the beneficial effects of the new preferential vote system on the two major parties did not remain uncontested. Critics of the electoral reform particularly highlighted the danger of party-infighting. They warned that such behaviour would detract candidates from competing with rival parties and would thereby reveal and indeed deepen intra-party conflicts. In essence, introducing intra-party competition to the Austrian electoral process was feared to cause negative externalities for the party, if not party democracy as such.

Austria's 1992 electoral system (first employed in 1994) contains two elements that pay tribute to the strategic considerations of the major parties outlined above: the creation of 43 regional electoral districts as a new first layer of the electoral system (below the 9 Land districts that remained from the previous system) and the 'strengthening' of the preferential vote system (Müller, 2005). A third one was the introduction of a 4 per cent national threshold (as alternative to winning one regional seat) that is not relevant in the context of personalization.

The 1992 reform strengthened the preferential voting system by introducing it to the new regional districts (in addition to the Land districts), by applying less restrictive thresholds for changing the party lists, and by printing the regional candidates' names on the ballot paper compared to the write-in system still practiced at the Land level. Each voter can tick one regional candidate and write-in the name of one Land candidate. Although the number of votes required for a seat at the regional and Land levels is identical, the number of required preferential votes is not. While the number of preferential votes required for a Land seat equals that of party votes required for winning a seat on the Land level, 50 per cent of that threshold or one sixth of the votes cast for the candidate's party in the district are sufficient on the regional level (provided the party has gained enough total votes for obtaining a seat). The second threshold is much easier to cross than the first. Once a candidate has won the required number of preferential votes he or she moves to the top of the party list unless another candidate has won more preferential votes. The regional electoral districts are small enough to allow active and locally rooted candidates to personally contact a large enough number of potential voters and to hence make personal vote-earning efforts potentially rewarding (cf. Bowler and Farrell, 1993, 53; Grofman, 2005; Shugart et al., 2005, 449).

The second feature of the electoral system that privileges regional districts as 'hunting grounds' for preferential votes concerns the process of casting a preferential vote. Recognizing and ticking a name (regional districts) is much less demanding than writing-in the name (Land level). Therefore, the former is more likely to occur as a reaction to the stimulus of name recognition on the ballot paper. Moreover, ticking a name requires less time in the ballot booth and voters need not to be afraid of spoiling their vote by misspelling a candidate's name or writing it in a wrong place on the ballot paper.

In terms of the four dimensions of electoral systems that may provide incentives for personalized behaviour, Austrian parties thus have maintained full control over candidate lists. However, in terms of casting and counting votes, incentives for personalization exist; constituency size also works in that direction. The electoral system thus would place Austria somewhere in the middle ground of electoral personalization. Consequently, the country assumes a value of 0.8 in Karvonen's (2010: 38) index of candidate-centredness, the theoretical range of which is between 0 and 2.

The design of the electoral system creates several types of candidates, depending on the level(s) - regional, Land, national - in which they run and how multiple candidacies combine (Müller et al., 2001). As we have seen, the electoral system provides special incentives to regional candidates to

N. Eder et al. / Electoral Studies xxx (2014) 1 -13

Table 1

Seat Allocations After the 2002 and 2006 elections.

Layer of seat allocation

Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ)

Austrian People's Party (ÖVP)

Greens (GRÜNE)

Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ)

Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ)

2002 Regional 46 0.67 59 0.75 0 0.00 0 0.00 - - 105 0.57

Land 16 0.23 13 0.16 12 0.71 15 0.83 - - 56 0.31

National 7 0.10 7 0.09 5 0.29 3 0.17 - - 22 0.12

Total 69 1.00 79 1.00 17 1.00 18 1.00 - - 183 1.00

2006 Regional 44 0.65 36 0.55 2 0.10 2 0.10 0 0.00 84 0.46

Land 17 0.25 23 0.35 14 0.67 12 0.57 3 0.43 69 0.38

National 7 0.10 7 0.11 5 0.24 7 0.33 4 0.57 30 0.16

Total 68 1.00 66 1.00 21 1.00 21 1.00 7 1.00 183 1.00

Note: Numbers of seats per party and column percentages indicating the proportion of seats won at each layer of the electoral system.

campaign hard and to seek personalized support. However, many regional constituency candidates, who make up 84 per cent of all candidates, will also benefit from a good party result in their constituencies. Furthermore, all candidates of parties holding 'safe' seats or having realistic chances of winning seats in both regional and Land constituencies have incentives to campaign for preferential votes.

Many seats shift back and forth between the three layers of seat distribution due to marginal changes in party strength. Well-placed regional constituency candidates (who fill the majority of seats) thus have strong personal incentives to compete for marginal voters on the basis of intensive constituency campaigns. While they may also be placed prominently on their party's Land list, as a rule they prefer winning a regional constituency seat. A survey of MPs demonstrated that among the most relevant foci of geographical and functional representation, the regional electoral districts stand out even when controlling for the type of seat held by the respondent (Müller et al., 2001,101110). Such seats are attractive for incumbent MPs, as they are typically more shielded from intra-party competition in candidate re-nomination than Land seats. However, a preferential vote system, which pitches fellow partisans against each other, has a prominent place in the allocation of these seats. Holding or running for a regional seat therefore provides candidates with individual incentives to campaign hard and to maximize votes cast for them personally.

To provide the baseline for the 2006 election, Table 1 shows how the 183 parliamentary seats were allocated in 2002. Of course, parties and candidates will try to anticipate the result of the election in which they are running. Table 1 therefore also contains the 2006 seat allocation. Given that gains and losses of the parties running in 2006 went in the expected directions but were stronger than forecasted, the actual results for 2002 and 2006 can thus be interpreted as a realistic range that might have guided candidate expectations. While it is often difficult to predict in which layer of the electoral system marginal seats are allocated to the individual parties, two empirical patterns are noteworthy: First, small parties are unlikely to win regional district seats. Second, with regard to the seats allocated at the Land level the four largest parties (SPÖ, ÖVP, FPÖ and Greens) are almost equally strong. As a consequence of both, the bulk of FPÖ, Green, BZÖ and small party candidates in general have less individual incentives to campaign in the regional districts.

Their prospects of winning a seat depend largely on their placement on the Land list rather than on marginal changes in the regional vote shares. In contrast, at the Land level candidates from the four larger parties have very similar individual office incentives.

In line with theoretical expectations resulting from neo-institutionalist considerations and empirical findings for other countries (e.g. Rahat and Shaefer, 2007) we expect that the Austrian candidates' campaigns will be influenced by institutional incentives. Because of the preferential vote system's features and local ties, our first hypothesis states that regional candidates should be most likely to run personalized campaigns (H1). While important, electoral systems are not the sole driver of candidate behaviour. Candidate and constituency characteristics should also be relevant.

If anything, the specific context of the 2006 elections strengthened the incentives for the 'personalization of campaigning' as the major parties were led by unpopular leaders and faced an exceptionally large number of serious contenders. In addition to the already mentioned parties (ÖVP, SPÖ, Greens, FPÖ, and BZÖ), these included the List Dr. Martin (MATIN on the ballot paper, as only five characters are allowed) (Müller, 2008). In the following section, we systematically discuss what we consider to be the main factors affecting the behaviour of Austrian constituency candidates.

2.4. Candidate and constituency characteristics as predictors of personalized campaigns

In fighting elections, Austrian parties symbolically rally their troops around the banner by nominating the maximum number of candidates allowed by the electoral law or whatever they can muster. In 'top-s' systems such as the Austrian one, which determine the number of seats allocated to parties before allocating seats within parties, 'filling out a list with clearly hopeless candidates [...] may be advantageous if these candidates attract additional voters to the party' (Bergman et al., 2013). Such candidate attractiveness results from their appeal to voters as candidates and the increased effort they make in the campaign to justify their nomination. Austrian candidate lists thus extend way beyond the potentially promising list places and, indeed, the number of total seats. In 2006, the seven parties studied here enlisted more than 3000 candidates.

N. Eder et al. / Electoral Studies xxx (2014) 1 -13

Given that only 183 seats exist, technically most had not the slightest chance of getting elected and only a few of them could hope to move up the party lists over time quickly enough to get elected to parliament during their lifetime. Yet, each of them can technically be elected by preferential votes and the Austrian system is rich with political offices to provide alternative career paths for many of the candidates. The universe of candidates, therefore, consists of different sub-groups: professional politicians, aspiring semi-professionals, and true amateurs who are honoured by their party's nomination and who want to demonstrate their solidarity by showing public commitment to their party. Candidates ranked low on their parties' list typically campaign less as contenders for winning a mandate or advancing their career, but rather as die-hard party activists aiming to get out the vote for their party and for its local champions. As such, they provide a very useful complement to the main contenders for parliamentary seats. In accordance with these different sub-groups, we find substantial variation regarding individual motivations and ambitions within the candidate universe. Hence, we must consider motivational factors (cf. Searing, 1994) or candidate goals in order to understand why candidates perform specific acts or choose certain strategies. Specifically, we expect candidates whose campaign goal is self-promotion rather than the promotion of their party to run more personalized campaigns (H2).

Running a campaign, and a personalized campaign in particular, is costly in many ways. Unless candidates are able and willing to provide money from their own pockets, candidates have to court sympathizers for contributing money and labour to the staff. The US literature on Congressional elections has identified many factors that influence the unequal flow of resources towards candidates. Incumbents are generally seen as advantaged due to higher name recognition from serving in political office and the associated opportunities for maintaining their 'electoral connection' (Mayhew, 1974; Benoit and Marsh, 2008). Resources are likely to flow towards non-incumbents when a 'challenger is seen as of 'high quality' and when the race is seen as competitive (i.e. with the contender having a chance to beat the incumbent) (Jacobson and Kernell, 1981). In multi-member district elections, the competitive situation is much more complex. Although cases of intraparty rivalries and actual defeat by preferential votes are very rare in Austria, they should still alert MPs that winning the party nomination might not be sufficient even if 'their' seat is 'safe' from a party perspective. In the words of Ferejohn and Rosenbluth (2009, 277),'fear of losing office is an existential fact in political life' and a few prominent cases are sufficient 'to see how realistic that fear is, and to imagine the lengths to which leaders might go to cope with it'. Moreover, preferential voting results are important beyond their immediate impact, as candidate selection occurs in the shadow of previous election results. Any incumbent trailing significantly behind any intra-party challenger may find it hard to be re-nominated as candidate next time. This provides additional incentives for candidates to campaign hard locally and to cultivate a 'personal vote'. In the Austrian setting, we thus expect candidates on the parties' 'safe' and 'hopeful' seats (who

both may directly benefit from party and preferential votes) to run personalized campaigns (H3). While such candidate characteristics, in turn, could also motivate the donation of labour and money to the candidates, we know that many personal campaign resources are from the candidates' private funds. In terms of political biography, we expect politically more experienced candidates (i.e. incumbent MPs and others who hold or held public offices with similar status) to be more akin to run personalized campaigns compared to political newcomers (H4).

In distinguishing personalized from party-centred campaigns, we thus test for the relevance of four characteristics: greater effort (time spent on the campaign), the use of personalized campaign means, having a personal campaign team, and having individual campaign funds.

We consider urban and rural electoral environments to be distinct and to cause different patterns of candidate behaviour. There is a long tradition in political science of looking at differences in political participation and voting in urban versus rural areas (e.g. Dahl, 1967; Tarrow, 1971; Oliver, 2000; Putnam, 1993, 2000). Studies inspired by social network analysis have rightly pointed out that this geographic distinction often serves as a proxy for characteristics that are more difficult to measure such as differences in social relations and political communication flows (Eulau and Rothenberg, 1986; Huckfeldt and Sprague, 1995; Baybeck and Huckfeldt, 2002). Regardless of the labels used, politicians are sensitive to the differences and take them into account in their relations with voters (e.g. Fenno, 1978). More specifically, in the context of the study of campaigning, the urban-rural distinction has featured prominently in work on Japan (Curtis, 2009 [1971]; Richardson, 1988; Dabney, 2009). Austrian MPs have also referred to the urban-rural distinction, for instance with regard to the importance of the representatives living in their electoral district (which is considered very important in case of rural districts but less so in others). The social interaction with voters in an urban context is described as being more impersonal in the latter context (Müller et al., 2001,111). We hypothesize that rural contexts might make it easier for candidates to reach their target population (for example via local events and networks) and to establish a personal rapport with many voters. We expect rural candidates to take advantage of these opportunities and to be more likely to engage in personalized campaigning (H5).

We include demographic variables for gender, age, and education as well as the candidates' party affiliation as control variables. Party affiliation stands for the combined effects of aggregate characteristics such as the size of the party, intra-party factionalism and a party's collective attitudes towards individualized campaigning. We have already pointed out that candidates from the smaller parties (in descending order: FPÖ, BZÖ, Greens, MARTIN, and KPÖ) have a weaker incentive to compete for preferential votes because these parties are unlikely to win regional electoral district seats. Therefore their candidates should be much less inclined to seek election through personalized campaign behaviour. Leftist parties (the SPÖ, KPÖ and, to a lesser extent, the Greens) should adhere more to collective values whereas rightist parties (ÖVP, FPÖ, BZÖ) are more partial to an individualistic worldview (Duverger,

N. Eder et al. / Electoral Studies xxx (2014) 1 -13

1959, 170). The ÖVP is, relatively speaking, the most fac-tionalised among the seven parties. It is characterized by the existence of three official and well-organised party factions, the so-called leagues - organising business, farmers, and workers and employees, respectively, and other special interests that enjoy greater privilege than their counterparts in other parties (Müller and Steininger, 1994). Although candidate selection in the ÖVP is based on inter-league bargaining and list-balancing, it is easy for individual candidates who are unsatisfied with the outcome of this process to mobilize their faction and campaign for preferential votes. Given the predominance of these three leagues in filling safe list places, candidates from party sub-organisations appealing to other sizable constituencies (such as the elderly, women, or youth) may be tempted to 'correct' the candidate lists by appealing for preferential votes. Overall, ÖVP candidates should be more likely to run personalized campaigns than candidates of the other parties.

3. Data and methods

The data employed in the present paper comes from our mail survey among the candidates for the 2006 general election (see appendix for details); the first study of candidates in Austrian national elections. It provides information about individual candidates' campaign goals and resources. Unlike other countries, where researchers have been able to draw on public registers of campaign contributions and expenditures, Austria had - for instance - no legal regulations on campaign finance for candidates at the time of the survey. Notwithstanding the inherent limitations, it thus constitutes the best source on most supply side aspects of constituency campaigns.

The questionnaire was sent out to all enlisted candidates of all parties running in the 2006 elections, making up a total number of 3311 people. The number of candidacies is much larger, as candidates can run at all three levels of the electoral system and 'combined' candidacies are indeed frequent. The candidate survey response rate of 42.6% was very good by the conventional standards of elite surveys and its representativeness is excellent (see Table A-1). We therefore abstain from weighting the data. We have complemented the survey data with official data on personal characteristics of candidates and the electoral results. In this paper, we restrict the analysis to candidates from the five established parties and from two challenger parties, the List Dr. Martin (MATIN) and the Communist Party (KPÖ). We leave out 105 candidates from five small flash parties.

The remainder of this section discusses the dependent and independent variables that will be used in the regression models.

3.1. Operationalization of variables and indices

3.1.1. Dependent variables

Subsequent multivariate regressions will employ four different dependent variables: campaign effort measured in the hours spent on campaigning, the importance of personalized campaign means, and the size of the personal campaign team and campaign budget.

Individual campaign effort is based upon the hours per week the candidates devoted to a range of campaign activities in the last four weeks preceding the election. We calculated the total amount of time spent on the campaign trail in hours per day. As some candidates seem to have counted the same activity under two or more labels we set a 'plausibility cap' at a maximum of 15 h per day.

We asked the candidates to assess the importance of nine 'classic' campaign components to their own campaign, five of which indicate personalized means of campaigning: own campaign events, posters, personal advertisements in the local media, personal flyers, and media contacts. We use judgements on these five issues (each running from 0 point for 'not important' to 3 points for 'very important') for an additive index with empirical values ranging from 0 to 15.

Our measure for the candidates' campaign team and their campaign budget take the form of two sets of binary variables, indicating whether they had a personal campaign team or campaign budget or not. Both variables have been measured as continuous variables. However, the distributions of values are very uneven. Very few candidates had large campaign teams and large campaign budgets. We therefore prefer to interpret the logit regressions rather than the results of ordinary least squares regressions.

3.1.2. Covariates

The candidates' campaign goal was originally measured on a ten-point scale with endpoints indicating self-promotion versus promotion of the party. We recoded the variable at midpoint into a binary variable: 1 indicates self-promotion, 0 indicates promotion of the party. This recoding allows for a straightforward test of our hypothesis (H1) in our statistical model.

To measure candidates' subjective chance of winning a seat, we asked them about their related expectations ahead of the election (on a five point scale running from 'none', 'low', 'open race', 'high' to 'certain'). The result of this is represented via four dummy variables. We also calculated the individual chance of winning a seat on more objective grounds, using the results of the previous election, pre-election polls, the candidates' list position(s) and the rules of seat allocation. While the rank correlation between objective and subjective evaluations is very high (Goodman and Kruskal's g = 0.98), some candidates lead their campaigns based on the objectively false assumption that they were running in an 'open' race. Such over-optimistic perceptions are common to many electoral contexts and indeed important for the candidates' self-motivation.

A set of hierarchically structured binary variables indicate a candidate's highest level of previous or current political office ('none', 'local level', 'Land level' (i.e. member of a Land diet or government), and 'national/European').

The three-tier electoral system allows combining candidacies at more than one level. To reduce the complexity we employ a hierarchical coding of the type of candidacy. A place on a regional district party list is coded as a 'regional' candidacy regardless of an additional candidacy at the second and/or third tiers. By the same logic, a place on a Land district party list is coded as an intermediate type of candidacy, but only if a candidate has no regional list slot.

N. Eder et al. / Electoral Studies xxx (2014) 1-13 7

Table 2

Descriptives of dependent variables and covariates.

Variables Mean Standard deviation Min Max (N)

Personalized campaign means (0-15) 5.11 3.72 0 15 (1220)

Campaign team (no/yes) 0.21 0.44 0 1 (1295)

Campaign budget (no/yes) 0.17 0.37 0 1 (1294)

Campaign hours (0/15)a 5.19 4.26 0.07 15 (1253)

Campaign goal (party/candidate) 0.21 0.41 0 1 (1266)

Subjective chance of winning a seat

Certain 0.03 0.17 0 1 (1295)

High 0.03 0.18 0 1 (1295)

Open race 0.06 0.24 0 1 (1295)

Low 0.53 0.50 0 1 (1295)

Current or previous public office

National/European 0.05 0.23 0 1 (1318)

Regional 0.06 0.23 0 1 (1318)

Local 0.05 0.50 0 1 (1318)


National tier only (no/yes) 0.07 0.25 0 1 (1318)

Land tier (no/yes) 0.09 0.29 0 1 (1318)

Best list position

First (no/yes) 0.09 0.29 0 1 (1318)

Second (no/yes) 0.08 0.27 0 1 (1318)

Third (no/yes) 0.09 0.29 0 1 (1318)

Urban district (no/yes) 0.38 0.48 0 1 (1318)

Education (primary/ 0 1


Gender (male/female) 0.33 0.47 0 1 (1318)

Age 45.08 12.09 19 88 (1318)


a Maximum of campaign hours is capped at 15 h per day. b Levels of education are coded as 0, 0.5 and 1.

The remaining category consists of candidates running exclusively on the national party list.

The seven regional electoral districts in Vienna and the five largest Land capitals (Graz, Linz, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt), each of which constitutes a distinct regional district, are coded as urban districts. According to this classification, Austria is made up of 12 urban and 31 rural regional districts.

The educational level of candidates is coded as an ordinal variable (with values of 0, 0.5 and 1) indicating the highest level of education completed by the candidates ('primary education', 'secondary education', 'university degree'). Binary variables indicating the candidates' party membership and female gender are self-evident. Table 2 provides descriptive statistics of the variables employed in the regression models.

In our statistical analyses we employ three types of regression - OLS, Tobit and Logit - depending on the nature of the dependent variable. We have chosen a Tobit regression for campaign hours due to the right-censoring of the data.

In the remainder of the paper we first consider candidate goal-setting on a descriptive level. We then turn to analysing the behavioural aspects of campaigning.

4. Party goals or individual goals?

As explained above, the 1992 electoral reform increased the stakes for both parties and individual candidates in grassroots campaigning. The two goals are aligned when intra-party competition is low or non-existent. In the absence of preferential votes for candidates with promising list

positions each party vote is also a vote for them. The situation is different in cases of intra-party competition. Then, preferential votes may be more important to individual candidates than party votes, particularly when their prospective seat seems safe. Candidates who neither enjoy promising slots nor aim for election via preferential votes may nevertheless face a choice with regard to their campaign goal: they may think more in terms of their party or in terms of individual candidates they wish to support. Yet, the electoral system provides the three types of candidates with quite different incentives to compete for preferential votes. As we described above, winning a seat in a regional electoral district via preferential votes is much easier than at the Land level. The threshold for winning a Land seat is substantial and only few candidates have crossed it since preferential votes were first introduced in 1971. Finally, as no preferential votes exist at the national level, third-tier candidates have no incentive to campaign for them.

A central question, therefore, is what the candidates aim for. In the survey, candidates were asked whether they wanted to win preferential votes for themselves, win preferential votes for another candidate, win party votes, or win both party and preferential votes. Table 3 shows that preferential votes are the primary goal for 7 per cent of the candidates but are part of their motivation for another 30. As most candidates on the party lists do not aim at getting elected themselves, it does not come as a surprise that more respondents aim at preferential votes for other candidates than for themselves. In any case, 64 per cent of our respondents exclusively aim at winning party votes. Table 3 reveals relevant inter-party differences, with the OVP candidates being most interested in preferential votes. This

Table 3

Stated campaign goal (in %).

Preferential votes Pref. votes for Preferential and Party (n)

for myself another candidate party votes votes

Party Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) 2 3 36 59 (289)

Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) 7 9 41 43 (272)

Greens (GRÜNE) 1 2 21 76 (285)

Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) 2 2 26 70 (210)

Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) 3 6 26 65 (163)

List Dr. Martin (MATIN) 0 13 7 80 (15)

Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ) 2 0 19 79 (99)

Type of candidacy Regional district 3 3 31 63 (1122)

Land district 4 7 31 58 (122)

Nationwide list only 0 9 15 76 (89)

Total 3 4 30 64 (1333)

Notes: Numbers are row percentages.

corresponds with the party's factional structure and more individualistic world view.

An alternative measure that puts party goals against individual candidate goals is what Zittel and Gschwend (2008, 988) call the 'campaign norm': the candidates' goal with regard to raising attention either for themselves or for their party (Table 4). The 'campaign norm' is not tied to specific institutional features and allows for comparison between countries. Correlating them as originally measured - on four-point (preference votes vs. party votes) and ten-point (campaign norm) scales, respectively - results in a in positive correlation (Goodman and Kruskal's g = 0.44). It is not particularly high, partly due to the different scales involved.

Running a personalized campaign requires time, staff and money. Table 5 provides empirical information on these central elements of campaigns. About half of the candidates spent one to 5 h of campaigning per day during the hot phase of the 2006 election campaign. Almost a quarter of the candidates reported up to 10 h, and 16 percent reported that they spent more than 10 h per day in campaigning. 11 percent of the candidates spent less than an hour per day contributing to the campaign.

An overwhelming majority of candidates had no personal campaign team or campaign budget. 80 percent reported they had no own campaign team and 84 percent no own campaign budget. Only about one in ten candidates had a non-negligible amount of own resources at their disposal. 57 percent of the candidates reported that personalized campaign means were not important for their own campaign. One out of 10 candidates who evaluated each of the five personalized campaign items as either

Table 4

'Campaign norm' (in %).

'important' or 'very important' in their campaign occupy the other end of the personalization scale.

5. Explaining personalized campaigns

Which candidates are most likely to run a personalized campaign? In this section we try to establish their characteristics with the help of multivariate regressions. The independent variables consist of motivational' variables (i.e. personal campaign goal and subjective chance of winning) and objective traits such as type of candidacy, political office (current and previous career positions), the urban or rural character of the district, party affiliation and demographic variables such as gender, age and level of education. The baseline candidate for the binary variables is a male Social Democratic candidate without experience in public office, who runs in a regional district from a list position correctly perceived as providing no chance of winning a seat, and whose main campaign goal is winning party votes.

We employ four indicators measuring how candidates conduct their campaigns. The four models show similar patterns as most coefficients point in the same direction. Differences in the signs of coefficients relate to some parties, to the district's character as rural or urban, and the candidate's level of education.

The first regression model tries to explain campaign effort (i.e. the number of hours per day a candidate used for campaigning). We use a censored regression model due to the imposed limit of 15 h of campaigning per day. The upper left panel of Fig. 1 shows the results of the Tobit regression. We see that campaign effort is strongly related with the

Party Candidate (n)

Party Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) 74.3 25.7 (265)

Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) 69.5 30.5 (262)

Greens (GRÜNE) 86.3 13.7 (269)

Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) 86.0 14.0 (207)

Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) 77.9 22.1 (154)

List Dr. Martin (MATIN) 71.4 28.6 (14)

Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ) 88.4 11.6 (95)

Type of candidacy Regional district 78.3 21.7 (1062)

Land district 79.5 20.5 (117)

Nationwide list only 89.7 10.3 (87)

Total 79.2 20.8 (1266)

Table 5

Individual campaign effort and resources (in %).

Campaign effort (hours per Campaign team (persons) Campaign budget (Euro) Importance of personalized

day) campaign means (index)

Less than 1 10.7 No Team 79.7 No Budget 84.3 0 points 13.9

1 to 5 50.9 1 to 3 10.0 Up to 1000 6.7 1 to 5 points 43.0

5 to 10 22.7 4 to 10 8.6 1001-10,000 6.2 6 to 10 points 33.2

More than 10 15.7 More than 10 1.7 More than 10,000 3.1 11 to 15 points 9.9

(N) (1333) (1375) (1365) (1220)

perceived probability of winning. Candidates who were certain of winning a seat spent on average the greatest amount of time on campaigning. Candidates running for preferential votes rather than party votes also invested more effort, but the effect is not as large as for incumbent MPs and candidates who expected taking a seat. Candidates in public office spent considerably more time on campaigning than candidates without office. Likewise did first-ranked candidates, even when they had no chance of winning. However, they share with candidates in office the fact that they are the party's 'public faces' and thus have to perform in a campaign (cf. Karlsen and Skogerb0, 2013, 5).

The type of candidacy does not seem to make much of a difference, nor does the urban or rural character of the district. Gender and age make no difference either, though education surprisingly does. Candidates with university degrees reported on average 1 h less of campaigning per day. BZO and KPO candidates gave somewhat lower estimates of time spent on campaigning on average, while MATIN candidates gave considerably higher estimates. We can see in all panels of Fig. 1 that campaign characteristics of candidates from the same party tend to be surprisingly similar after controlling for other covariates.

For the index of importance of personalized means we use an OLS regression model with standard errors clustered by party. Noteworthy are the considerable negative coefficient values for FPO, MATIN and Communist candidates. An ego-oriented campaign goal, high subjective chance of winning a seat, a good list position and experience in political office are all positively associated with attributing more importance to campaign instruments that emphasize the individual candidate rather than the party. The same characteristics are also positively associated with having personal campaign staff and budget at disposal. While securing personal campaign resources can be seen as a necessary first step in running a 'personalized' campaign, we can follow a kind of reversed logic: Candidates without access to these means are pushed towards a 'party first' conception of the campaign.

The regression results support four of our five hypotheses - on the role of the candidates' campaign goal of self-or party-promotion (H2), the chance of winning a seat (H3), of political experience (H4) and of the urban-rural district characteristic (H5) we find positive support. In contrast to our theoretical expectations, the type of candidacy (H1) does not make much of a difference in these regression models. This may be due to the large pool of regional list candidates and two 'contamination' effects: First, while these districts provide the strongest incentives for personalized campaigns, the pool also includes most of the candidates without personal ambition. Pooling these candidates with candidates running only in the two upper tiers

does not provide much additional information. Second, Land and national candidates may still have a political base in a regional constituency even if they do not run there and concentrate their campaign efforts there.

As expected, candidates from urban districts use personalized campaign means to a lesser degree (H5), though they report about the same amount of time spent on campaigning. Candidates in urban districts also tend to have fewer campaign resources. Rather than being disadvantaged compared to their fellow candidates in rural districts, their lack of resources might again be rather a consequence of having no intention of running an ego-oriented campaign.

6. Conclusion

In this paper we have highlighted constituency campaigning in Austria, asking whether and to what extent it is 'personalized' in the sense that candidates gain prominence at the expense of parties and collective identities (Karvonen, 2010; Zittel and Gschwend, 2008). Twenty years earlier, this probably would have been a 'non topic' and even today Austria is not the most likely case for it given the considerable strength of parties as organizations and the persistence of organizational cultures. Yet the relative decline of the major parties, changes in their competitive environment, and the reform of the electoral system have provided candidates with a set of incentives to move in the direction of 'candidate-centred' campaigns. In particular, the three-tier PR-list system with multi-member constituencies that allows for preferential votes in the two lower tiers provides incentives to marginally 'eligible' regional constituency candidates to campaign for party votes and for all candidates in the two lower ties to campaign for preferential votes. The 2006 electoral context with unpopular national leaders of the two major parties probably worked in this direction, too. It provided rank-and-file candidates of these parties with incentives to take a more central role in the campaign themselves.

We first briefly discussed candidates' campaign goals with a special focus on the distinction between party-centred vs. candidate-centred campaign goals. We found that 37 percent of the candidates have goals that include winning preferential votes. Candidates who are optimistic about their electoral prospects are significantly more inclined towards self-promotion than their party comrades further down the list. We found that candidate-centred campaign goals are a relevant feature in modern Austrian campaigns and indeed dominant for a sizeable number of candidates.

Our main research interest was to determine which candidates run personalized campaigns; that is, invest more time, use personalized means of campaigning, rally a

N. Eder et al. / Electoral Studies xxx (2014) 1-13

Fig. 1. Regression analyses of campaign characteristics.

personal campaign team, and have personal campaign funds. We find personalized means of campaign communication to be considered at least somewhat important by almost all respondents. Such means are valued more by experienced politicians and by candidates who are most likely to win a seat. The bulk of the candidates lack the resources required for personalized campaigning. Our analyses suggest that there is no single blueprint for the candidates' campaign strategies and that motivational factors are important for choosing the personal mix. Candidates who turn to personalized' campaign means do so because they indeed want to promote individual goals and not just party goals. Such behaviour is more likely not only

when they see a chance of indeed winning a seat, but also when they have experienced the taste of public office. As expected, the urban-rural divide impacts campaigning. Urban districts are somewhat less favourable grounds for personalized campaigning and fewer candidates could draw on their own campaign teams and means there.

Austrian elections are still won in the national arena and in the parties' contest emphasizing ideas and potential teams of government. Yet, these choices are communicated not only via national channels but also via a multitude of constituency activities. The present paper has shown that parliamentary candidates are not just transmitters of centrally formulated messages but to varying degrees make

themselves the main content of their electioneering. While personalisation at the top may be cyclical, for now it seems more like a trend when focussing on the parliamentary candidates at large.


The data employed in the paper were originally collected with a grant from the Jubiläumsfonds of the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Project 12057). Further

analysis of the data occurs under the auspices of the Austrian National Election Study (AUTNES), a National Research Network (NFN) sponsored by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) (S10903-G11). We are grateful to the participants in the conference 'Candidates in Constituency Campaigns from a Comparative Perspective. Is Collectivist Representation in Established Party Democracy under Stress?', Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, October 2-3, 2009, in particularly Seth Jolly, Gideon Rahat, Thomas Zittel as well as the reviewers of our paper.


Table A-1

Representativeness of the study.

Absolute frequency Relative frequency

Population Sample Population Sample

Party Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) 654 293 0.198 0.208

Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) 625 280 0.189 0.198

Greens (GRÜNE) 525 299 0.159 0.212

Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) 602 220 0.182 0.156

Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) 518 171 0.156 0.121

List Dr. Martin (MATIN) 34 15 0.010 0.011

Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ) 248 100 0.075 0.071

Other Parties 105 33 0.032 0.023

Total 3311 1411 1.000 1.000

Duncan-Index of Dissimilarity3 7.35

Sex Female 1127 471 0.340 0.334

Male 2184 940 0.660 0.666

Total 3311 1411 1.000 1.000

Duncan-Index of Dissimilaritya 0.66

Incumbents Incumbent (MP before the election) 176 67 0.053 0.047

Other candidates 3135 1344 0.947 0.953

Total 3311 1411 1.000 1.000

Duncan-Index of Dissimilaritya 0.57

MPs Elected MP (after the election) 183 76 0.055 0.054

Other candidates 3128 1335 0.945 0.946

Total 3311 1411 1.000 1.000

Duncan-Index of Dissimilaritya 0.14

Type of candidacy Nationwide 231 92 0.070 0.065

Land district 289 130 0.087 0.092

Regional district 2791 1189 0.843 0.843

Total 3311 1411 1.000 1.000

Duncan-Index of Dissimilaritya 0.48

Chance of winning a seat (obj.) None 3102 1319 0.937 0.935

Possible 64 32 0.019 0.023

Certain (Safe seat) 145 60 0.044 0.042

Total 3311 1411 1.000 1.000

Duncan-Index of Dissimilaritya 0.33

Electoral districts Duncan-Index of Dissimilaritya Land electoral districts (9) Regional electoral districts (43) 4.95 6.72

For the calculation of the Duncan-Index see Duncan, O., Duncan, B., 1955. A methodological analysis of segregation indexes. American Sociological Review 20 (2), 210-217.

a Duncan-Index of dissimilarity: 0 [perfect fit] ... 100 [maximum dissimilarity].

Table A-2

Multivariate regression models of personalized campaigning.

Campaign hours/day (0-15) Coeff. (S.E.)

Importance of personalized campaign means (index 0-15)

Own campaign team Own campaign budget

Coeff. (S.E.)

Coeff. (S.E.)

Coeff. (S.E.)

Campaign goal: Me 0.78 (0.42) Subjective chance of winning a seat

Certain 3.76 (1.09)

High 2.59 (0.55)

1.86 (0.26)

2.46 (0.37) 2.56 (0.51)

1.02(0.12) *** 1.06(0.16) ***

1.21 (0.47) *** 1.07 (0.61) *

1.36 (0.36) *** 1.01 (0.27) ***

(continued on next page)

N. Eder et al. / Electoral Studies xxx (2014) 1 -13

Table A-2 (continued )

Campaign hours/day (0-15) Coeff. (S.E.)

Importance of personalized campaign means (index 0-15)

Own campaign team

Own campaign budget

Coeff. (S.E.)

Coeff. (S.E.)

Coeff. (S.E.)

Open race Low

Current or previous public office National/European Regional Local Candidacy National list Land list Best list position First Second Third

Urban regional district Party affiliation People's Party Freedom Party

Alliance for the Future of Austria Greens List Martin Communist Party Socio-demographics Female Age

Education Constant Observations Log (Pseudo) likelihood Adjusted R2 PCP/PRE AIC BIC

1.45 (0.61) 0.42 (0.30)

2.14 (0.74) 3.29 (0.50) 0.51 (0.29)

0.26 (0.58) -0.67 (0.49)

1.87 (0.65) 1.04 (0.63) 0.38 (0.39) 0.59 (0.35)

0.43 (0.07) -0.15 (0.15) -1.42 (0.10) 0.62 (0.10) 2.45 (0.21) -1.62 (0.30)

-0.22 (0.17) -0.04(0.01)

-1.02 (0.45)

6.20 (0.58) 1209 3277

6565 6596

1.94 (0.38) 1.32 (0.33)

0.77 (0.45) 1.39 (0.29) 0.50 (0.18)

-0.19 (0.27) 0.22 (0.20)

1.09 (0.28) 1.17 (0.42) 0.31 (0.47) -0.89 (0.20)

-0.90 (0.03) -2.05 (0.12) -0.51 (0.09) -0.75 (0.07) -2.76 (0.10) -1.44 (0.12)

-0.05 (0.16)

0.01 (0.01) -1.18 (0.26) 5.06 (0.46) 1179 -2537 0.27

5087 5117

1.20 (0.42) 0.52 (0.27)

0.96 (0.40) -0.07 (0.46) -0.22 (0.20)

-0.24 (0.20) 0.08 (0.25)

1.04 (0.28) 0.69 (0.29) 0.85 (0.27) -0.65 (0.12)

0.05 (0.05) -0.09 (0.08) -0.07 (0.05) -0.75 (0.10) -1.97 (0.32) -1.39 (0.05)

-0.51 (0.17) -0.01 (0.01) -0.02 (0.11)

-1.21 (0.50) 1233 -3222

83%/19% 1008 1039

0.49 (0.42) 0.66 (0.21)

1.18 (0.51) 0.36 (0.72) 0.26 (0.30)

-0.37 (0.41) -0.02 (0.49)

1.11 (0.35) 1.04 (0.35) 0.69 (0.26) -0.35 (0.25)

0.47 (0.06) -0.57 (0.05) -0.32 (0.07) -1.38 (0.10) -1.41 (0.38) -1.39 (0.26)

-1.06 (0.05) -0.01 (0.01) 0.13 (0.11) -1.85 (0.49)

1232 -420

86%/16% 866 897

Notes: Standard errors clustered by party. ***p < 0.01, **p < 0.05, *p < 0.10.

Note: Any written survey poses the question whether the members of the target group or someone else actually answered the questionnaires. We rely on several plausibility indicators. To begin with, the vast majority of our respondents simply do not command personal political staff for delegating such a task. Sitting MPs have modest personnel resources available. However, these jobs are not too well paid and typically filled with youngsters who are in their first job. The handwritten answers to our open questions typically suggest that they are from more mature hands, plausibly representing the age structure of our sample. Finally, the contents of the handwriting, including personal messages to the senior researcher (who had spoken to the contacted MPs on other occasions) and a great number of comments on the questions themselves, suggest that we have indeed received answers from our target group even when they commanded personal staff.


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