Acta Politica

, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 265–285 | Cite as

Who is recruiting our crew? Contextual determinants of MPS’ selection

  • Sandra Bermúdez
  • Guillermo CorderoEmail author
Original Article


This article analyses the contextual determinants of parliamentary elites’ methods of selection. Using survey data from a representative sample of 500 Spanish MPs, we empirically demonstrate that different district characteristics generate different ways of MPs’ selection. Specifically, parties implement more exclusive ways of candidate selection in more competitive districts and in regional chambers. On the contrary, selection processes are more participative at the national level and where electoral competition is low.


candidate selection decentralization electoral system MPS parliamentary elite party system 



The authors thank the research group Democracy and Autonomies: Society and Politics (DASP, for the use of the database of the first survey to Spanish MPs. The authors also thank Xavier Coller, Javier Astudillo, Ignacio Lago, the editors of this journal and the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


  1. Aarts, K., Blais, A. and Schmitt, H. (2011) Political Leaders and Democratic Elections. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Alcántara, M. (2012) El oficio de Político. Madrid: Tecnos.Google Scholar
  3. Bickel, R. (2007) Multilevel analysis for applied research: It’s just regression!. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bille, L. (2001) Democratizing a democratic procedure: Myth or reality? Candidate selection in Western European Parties, 1960–1990. Party Politics 7: 363–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blondel, J. (1969) Comparative Government: An Introduction. New York: Praeger.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bowler, S., Farrell, D.M. and Katz, R.S. (1999) Party Discipline and Parliamentary Government. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Carey, J. (2007) Competing principals, political institutions, and party unity in legislative voting. American Journal of Political Science 51: 92–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carey, J. and Shugart, M.S. (1995) Incentives to cultivate a personal vote: A rank ordering of electoral formulas. Electoral Studies 14: 417–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carsey, T., Berry, W.D. and Forest, W. (2014) What’s a losing party to do? The calculus of contesting state legislative elections. Public Choice 160(1–2): 251–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cordero, G. and Coller, X. (2015) Cohesion and candidate selection in parliamentary groups. Parliamentary Affairs 68(3): 357–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cordero, G., Jaime-Castillo, A.M. and Coller, X. (2016) Candidate selection in a multilevel state: The case of Spain. American Behavioral Scientist, 60(7): 773–780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cox, G. (1999) Electoral rules and electoral coordination. Annual Review of Political Science 2: 145–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Czudnowski, M.M. (1975) Political Recruitment. In: F.I. Greenstein and N.W. Polsby (eds.) Handbook of Political Science, vol. 2, Micropolitical Theory. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, pp. 155–242.Google Scholar
  14. Depauw, S. and Martin, S. (2009) Legislative party discipline and cohesion in comparative perspective. In D. Gannett and K. Benoit (eds.), Intra-Party Politics and Coalition Governments. Taylor & Francis US: New York, pp. 103–120.Google Scholar
  15. Detterbeck, K. (2016) Candidate selection in Germany: Local and regional party elites still in control? American Behavioral Scientist, 60(7): 837–852.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Epstein, L.D. (1967) Political Parties in Western Democracies. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  17. Field, B. N. and Siavelis, P. M. (2008) Candidate selection procedures in transitional polities: A research note. Party Politics 14: 620–639.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fujimura, N. (2012) Electoral incentives, party discipline, and legislative organization: Manipulating legislative committees to win elections and maintain party unity. European Political Science Review 4(2): 147–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gallagher, M., Laver, M. and Mari, P. (2001) Representative Government in Modern Europe. Boston: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  20. Gallagher, M. and Marsh, M. (1988) Candidate Selection in Comparative Perspective: The Secret Garden of Politics. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  21. Harmel, R. (1981) Environment and party decentralization: A cross-national analysis. Comparative Political Studies 14: 75–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hazan, R.Y. and Rahat, G. (2006) Candidate Selection: Methods and Consequences. In R.S. Katz, and W.J. Crotty. Handbook of Party Politics, London: Sage, pp. 109–121.Google Scholar
  23. Hazan, R.Y. and Rahat, G. (2010) Democracy within Parties: Candidate Selection Methods and Their Political Consequences. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hazan, R.Y. and Voerman, G. (2006) Electoral systems and candidate selection. Acta Politica 41: 146–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hermens, F.A. (1972) Democracy or Anarchy? A Study of Proportional Representation. New York: Johnson Reprint Corp.Google Scholar
  26. Hopkin, J. (2001) Bringing the members back in? Democratizing candidate selection in Britain and Spain. Party Politics 7: 343–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hopkin, J. (2003) Political decentralization, electoral change and party organizational adaptation. A framework for analysis. European Urban and Regional Studies 10: 227–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Katz, R.S. (2001) The problem of candidate selection and models of party democracy. Party Politics 7: 277–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kenig, O. (2009) Democratization of party leadership selection: Do wider selectorates produce more competitive contests? Electoral Studies 28(2): 240–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. King, A. (2002) Leaders’ Personalities and the Outcomes of Democratic Elections. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Laakso, M. and Taagepera, R. (1979) Effective number of parties. A measure with application to West Europe. Comparative Political Studies 12: 3–27.Google Scholar
  32. Lago, I. and Blais, A. (2009) A general measure of district competitiveness. Electoral Studies 28(1): 94–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lago, I. and Montero, J. R. (2005) Todavía No Sé Quiénes, pero Ganaremos: Manipulación Política del Sistema Electoral Español. Zona abierta 111: 279–348.Google Scholar
  34. Lena-Krook, M. (2007) Candidate gender quotas: A framework for analysis. European Journal of Political Research 46: 367–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lundell, K. (2004) Determinants of candidate selection the degree of centralization in comparative perspective. Party Politics 10: 25–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Méndez-Lago, M. (2000) La Estrategia Organizativa del Partido Socialista Obrero Español: (1975–1996). Madrid: Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas.Google Scholar
  37. Michels, R. (1915) Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy. New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  38. Norris, P. (1997) Passages to Power. Legislative Recruitment in Advanced Democracies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Norris, P. (2006) Recruitment. In: S. Katz and R.S. Crotty (eds.) Handbook of Party Politics. London: Sage, pp. 89–108.Google Scholar
  40. Norris, P. and Lovendusky, J. (1995) Political Recruitment: Gender, Race and Class in the British Parliament. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Pallarés, F. and Keeting, M. (2003) Multi-level electoral competition: Regional elections and party systems in Spain. European Urban and Regional Studies 10(3): 239–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Penadés, A. (1999) El Sistema Electoral Español (1977–1996). In: J.L. Paniagua and J.C. Monedero (eds.) En Torno a La Democracia En España. Temas Abiertos Del Sistema Político Español. Madrid: Tecnos, pp. 89–342.Google Scholar
  43. Pilet, J.B. (2007) Strategies under the surface: The determinants of redistricting in Belgium. Comparative European Politics 5: 205–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pilet, J.B. and Cross, W.P. (2014) The Selection of Political Party Leaders in Contemporary Parliamentary Democracies. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  45. Rahat, G. and Hazan, R.Y. (2001) Candidate selection methods: An analytical framework. Party Politics 7: 297–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ranney, A. (1981) Candidate selection. In D. Butler, H.R. Penniman, and A. Ranney (eds.), Democracy at the Polls: A Comparative Study of Competitive National Elections. Washington: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, pp. 75–106.Google Scholar
  47. Reif, K. and Schmitt, H. (1980) Nine second-order national elections: A conceptual framework for the analysis of european elections results. European Journal of Political Research 8(1): 3–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Renwick, A. and Pilet, J.B. (2016) Faces on the Ballot: The Personalization of Electoral Systems in Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sandri, G., Seddone, A. and Venturino, F. (2015) Party Primaries in Comparative Perspective. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  50. Sartori, G. (1986) The influence of electoral systems: Faulty laws or faulty method? In: B. Grofman and A. Lijphart (eds.), Electoral Laws and Their Political Consequences. New York: Agathon Press.Google Scholar
  51. Shomer, Y. (2014) What affects candidate selection processes? A cross-national examination. Party Politics 20(4): 533–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Siavelis, P. (2002) The hidden logic of candidate selection for Chilean parliamentary elections. Comparative Politics 34(4): 419–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Siavelis, P.M. and Morgenstern, S. (2008) Pathways to Power: Political Recruitment and Candidate Selection in Latin America. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Sieberer, U. (2006) Party unity in parliamentary democracies: A comparative analysis. The Journal of Legislative Studies, 12: 150–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Smith, D.M. and Tstutsumi, H. (2014) Candidate selection methods and policy cohesion in parties: The impact of open recruitment in Japan. Party Politics, 7(3): 297–322.Google Scholar
  56. Snyder, J.M. and Ting, M.M. (2011) Electoral selection with parties and primaries. American Journal of Political Science 55(4): 781–795.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Spies, D.C. and Kaiser, A. (2014) Does the mode of candidate selection affect the representativeness of parties? Party Politics 20(4): 576–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Taagepera, R. and Shugart, M. (1989) Seats and Votes: The Effects and Determinants of Electoral Systems. New Heaven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Thomas, M. and Bodet, M.E. (2013) Sacrificial lambs, women candidates, and district competitiveness in Canada. Electoral Studies 32: 153–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Van Biezen, I. (2003) Political Parties in New Democracies: Party Organization in Southern and East-Central Europe. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Van Houten, P. (2009) Multi-level relations in political parties. A delegation approach. Party Politics 15: 137–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Wessels, B. (1997) Germany. In P. Norris (ed.), Passages to Power. Legislative Recruitment in Advanced Democracies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 76–97.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Department of Political and Social SciencesBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Political Science and International RelationsUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain

Personalised recommendations