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Elections as beauty contests: do the rules matter?

Curtice, John and Hunjan, S. (2011) Elections as beauty contests: do the rules matter? In: Political Leaders and Democratic Elections. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 0199259003

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Abstract

Leaders have become the human face of election campaigns. This has lead to the suggestion that many voters now vote for the party leader they like best rather than the party they prefer. However, people would seem more likely to vote for the leader rather than the party in presidential elections rather than parliamentary ones, and amongst parliamentary elections themselves when a majoritarian rather than proportional electoral system is used. In addition we might expect these propositions to be particularly true if few people have a strong party identification and many people watch a lot of television news. This paper uses the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems project data to assess whether there is any systematic evidence to support these expectations.