Tuesday 28th March 2023
- Speaker: Dr Jonathan Wheatley, Oxford Brookes University
- Time: 13.15-14.05
- Title: Do Candidates’ Policy Positions Matter to Voters? Evidence from the 2021 Elections to the Welsh Senedd
- Abstract: Candidate-based electoral systems are designed to ensure that those elected are individually accountable to voters. However, legislators are only likely to represent constituents’ policy interests if voters cast their ballots for those candidates who are closest to them on policy issues. We study the impact of candidates’ policy positions on voters’ electoral preferences in the 2021 elections to the Welsh Parliament. Using mass online survey data and a fixed-effects approach, we find that despite the “second-order” character of Welsh parliamentary elections, candidates’ policy positions did have an impact on voters’ electoral preferences. However, that effect is small, limited to issues that voters see as particularly important, and only emerges among voters with high political interest. Overall, our findings question one of the core justifications for candidate-based electoral systems.