CEMI - Centar za monitoring i istraživanje

Balkan Electoral Comparative Study: Impact of Personal Vote on Internal Party Democracy

The project “Balkan Comparative Election Study – The Impact of Personal Voting on In-Party Democracy” is being implemented by the Centre for Monitoring and Research CeMI in cooperation with partners of the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade, and the Kosovo think tank KIPRED. The project also includes experts and researchers from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The project is implemented within the Regional Research Program for the Western Balkans “Regional Research Promotion Program” – RRPP, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, which is implemented by the University of Fribourg.

In addition to the academic consideration of this issue, the project was initiated to contribute to a debate on the electoral reform in all four countries in which it is being implemented.

As can be seen in order to make a more comprehensive analysis of the effects of personalization on political parties, the research framework is narrowed down to the election systems of party lists. We have opted for four countries. They all use the same electoral system – a proportional system of party lists. Two of them use closed blocked lists (Montenegro and Serbia), and the two have introduced preferential voting (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo).

Modern liberal democracies feature highly personalized politics. Governments are more recognizable by leaders than parties that represent the basis of their constitution. The personalization trend is not characteristic exclusively for the presidential systems, but has become a feature of parliamentary political systems. In addition to personalization at the leader level – political party, personalization of politics at the level of deputy – political party is characteristic. Owing to the introduction of preferential voting in proportional party list systems, the circle of electoral systems has significantly expanded in which voters play a significant role in the selection of their representatives. Historically speaking, the representative position was strengthened by the accepted attitude that the MP, not the party, was the “owner of the mandate”, while the preferential vote was further supported by it.

This project will deal with the personalization of politics at the level of a deputy – political party, that is, how much the element of personalization of the electoral system, that is, personal voting, affects the political parties, both on the relations within them and the relations between them.

Also, this research will focus on the triangle consisting of: (1) parties, (2) candidates, and (3) voters. On the other hand, we will monitor the effects of the personalization of the electoral system on political parties through three dimensions: (1) the influence on political parties (2) the impact on the conduct of candidates / representatives, (3) the impact on voter behavior.

CeMI has established cooperation with the global project Comparative Candidate Study, so that this research will be carried out in the countries of the project, which will make our countries globally comparable, included in a global database of findings from all countries in which the survey was carried out, which will represent a great resource for many researchers interested in research in this field.