Proposed Research Projects

Electoral Control in Eastern Europe

Workshop 2 and Specialized Course

Research Projects

March 18, 2014

Within-country electoral context: Candidates heterogeneity as determinant of voting behaviour

Mikolaj Czesnik, Polish National Election Study, Poland

Download Prof. Cesnik’s presentation on Candidates as electoral context for voters and voting

Context as an important determinant of voting behaviour (e.g. the True European Voter project, done within the COST framework). A key issue is the within-country electoral context; candidates constitute such a context.  Some possible research questions are: What is the impact of the candidates on voting behaviour? and How do their features and characteristics influence voting behaviour?  I plan to explore EAST PaC data focusing on gender, and ask: Does gender balance (on the list) influence voting behaviour?  On the one hand, classical accounts suggest that who are the candidates, how many they are etc., matters (starting from Downs 1957).  On the other hand, knowledge about Polish elections, candidates and voters suggests that this element of electoral politics in Poland does not matter at all.  This literature suggests two hypotheses: H1: Candidates heterogeneity in the constituency increases voter turnout (the higher the heterogeneity, the higher the voter turnout) and H2: Candidates heterogeneity on the party list increases support for this party list (the higher the heterogeneity, the higher the support).

Professional Pipelines and Political Success

Sheri Kunovich, Southern Methodist University, USA

Download PDF of Kunovich’s Presentation on Professional Pipelines

It is well established in most democracies that “average” citizens do not get elected for national office.  In fact, politicians are generally drawn from a small number of professions including law, self-employed business owners, education and health related fields.  Occupational specialization can be an important source of inequality in a democracy if and when professional groups have significantly more influence than other groups in society.  While we know a great deal about occupational specialization in established democracies we know a lot less in new democracies.  Some have alleged that political parties in post-communist democracies are formed top-down and dominated by rich and well-connected members of society.  In this project we will first determine if occupational status matters and how its importance changes over time.  We will pay significant attention to the extent to which particular parties are more “open” to occupational diversity than others.

In a second related project we will focus on the importance of occupations in determining women’s political outcomes. Many have argued that the number of women in politics is influenced by the existence of professional pipelines that prepare, encourage, and support women as candidates across parties.  Professional pipelines should make it “easier” for party leaders and party members to identify qualified candidates for public office.  Determining the extent to which a professional  pipeline exists is difficult.   However, we believe that the 2011 election in Poland provides a unique opportunity to determine if a professional pipeline existed and if parties looked to traditional occupations for female candidates when every party was required to have 30% female candidates on their electoral lists.  In addition, to determining if professional pipeline existed and how it was used in the 2011 election, our project will also give us the opportunity to consider the extent to which national quota laws  increased the diversity among female candidates and if they increased the diversity among female MPS elected.

Fight for votes – most patient versus most effective candidates

Justyna Nyćkowiak, Uniwersytet Zielonogórski, Poland

One way to describe the course of political careers is to look at the history of electoral successes and failures. But before they occur, one should take a look at the history of participation in the elections, especially viewed from the perspective of “patience” of candidates. Also, the analysis of that history seems incomplete if we don’t take into account an additional context – intervals between special events – successes or failures in election. Using this approach, we can ask questions, among others, as to what characterizes the most patient candidates and how they differ from those who happen to be the most effective. Therefore, considering issues of political representation, we are able to notice those candidates who, despite many attempts, either don’t become parliamentarians or achieve it after long-term efforts.

Incumbency effects and the personal vote under mixed-member electoral rules: The case of Hungary

Zsófia Papp, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary

Download Zsofia Papp’s Proposed Research Project

Due to strong and cohesive parties the notion of personal vote is a relatively understudied area of political science in Eastern-Europe. Based on the overall party-centeredness of the political scenery, we assume that individual politicians do not play a substantial role in the electoral success of the parties. We are doing this despite the fact that in several electoral systems, Eastern-European voters are asked to choose directly between candidates instead of parties. The lack of the effort in investigating the person as the recipient of the vote leaves us with no proper voter-level data. The EastPac data collection effort might be the first step to get closer to the problem, by providing aggregated electoral data which enables us to estimate the extent to which certain candidate features influence election results on the Single Member District (SMD) level. Also, by providing the core information for electoral margins, it offers the possibility to test its effects on several MP-level dependent variables.

Possible tentative research questions:

— Are incumbents more likely to be re-elected, in case party affiliation is controlled for?

— To what extent does former legislative and electoral experience influence the vote percentage of SMD candidates?

— Is there a connection between SMD results and the candidates’ positions on party lists? (“reverse contamination”)

— How do electoral margins influence member attitudes and behaviour in parliament?

EastPac variables (available/available after re-coding)

– vote percentage in SMDs

– the ID of the electoral districts

– party list position (only available for 2010)

– dual candidacy

– whether the candidate wins the seat

– constituency level party vote (only available for 2010)

In order to be able to answer the questions, the data has to be presented constituency-wise, which would require some coding.

Additional variables:

– PARTIREP 2009 (parliament: 2006-2010, available from ?; focus and style of representation, constituency service)

– CCS 2010 (parliament: 2010-2014, available, focus and style of representation, campaign strategies at the 2010 elections)

– OTKA dataset on parliamentary party candidates (local political background and party leadership positions of candidates from 1998  to 2014; available from Sept 2015)

Electoral Control in Ukraine

Natalia Pohorila, SOCIS – Center for Social and Marketing studies, Ukraine


Unit of analysis




The growth of the candidates  sent/living in the capitals


Number of the candidates from a city capital grows and this is not good for representation of the regional interests

Comparative analysis in 3 countries is possible

No theory. Does moving to the capital mean break of the ties with the region?

Left candidates’ voting

  1. Candidates

  2. Districts

  3. Regions

East and South vote for the left, but also the habitants of the industrial cities. (Cherkashin)

1)Comparative analysis

2) Strong measure of support (votes)


var and place of living  can’t be accounted for

2)  Hypothesis work only for Ukraine

Comparing of majoritarian and party system work in the regions of Ukraine

  1. Candidates (votes)

  2. Districts

  3. Regions

Majoritarian system favours to send more candidates from Eastern and Southern oblasts, party system – from Western and Central→ majoritarian system fits better industrial pro-Russian parts with weaker political capital


Correlation btw political system and local political, social and economic capital

1)Only for Ukraine

2) No political theory

Looking for local patterns of political participation


There are only few regions with coherent electoral behavior /political culture (O’Loughlin)

1)Disclaiming the “image” of the inner coherent regions. Other factors (geopolitical orientations), social structure matters

2) Testing the quality of civility theory

No data on voting turnover in Ukraine

“One candidate fits all” vs. “The right candidate for the right district”: Party strategies for deciding who’s competing where

Claudiu D. Tufiș, University of Bucharest, Romania

The main goal of this paper is to identify the extent to which Romanian political parties try to match the “right candidate” to the electoral district. In doing so I will use candidate data from the 2008 Romanian Parliamentary elections (they include gender, age, occupation, and profession for the candidates). The candidate data will be linked to electoral district data (primarily an indicator of development, but other variables will also be considered). Through the analysis of the district – party – candidate pairings I will be able to (1) verify if the structure of the candidate pool is similar or different across parties, (2) verify if the main political parties have different strategies for deciding on the candidates, and (3) check the impact of these strategies on the results of the elections.

Safety in numbers: Group linkages and the persistence of party switching in Poland

Peter J. Tunkis, The Ohio State University, USA

Download Peter Tunkis Presentation March 2014

Party switching, or changing political party affiliation, is a surprisingly widespread and persistent phenomenon among sitting parliamentarians (MPs) in all democracies. Why would MPs risk careers, prestige, and chances for reelection for uncertain payoffs, thereby giving voters the impression of legislators lacking accountability and representation? Existing research argues that MPs’ decisions are individually rational vis-à-vis electoral, career, or policy ambitions, and that switching declines as democracy matures. Instead, I find a strong group-basis of defection that persists after twenty years of Polish democracy. I argue that group ties have a substantial effect on MPs’ behavior, thereby overshadowing individual material incentives.


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