Election Systems, the "Beauty Premium" in Politics, and the Beauty of Dissent

47 Pages Posted: 20 May 2020

See all articles by Niklas Potrafke

Niklas Potrafke

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Marcus Rösch

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

Heinrich W. Ursprung

University of Konstanz; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: 2020

Abstract

We ask three questions. First, do election systems differ in how they translate physical attractiveness of candidates into electoral success? Second, do political parties strategically exploit the "beauty premium" when deciding on which candidates to nominate, and, third, do elected MPs use their beauty premium to reap some independence from their party? Using the German election system that combines first-past-the-post election with party-list proportional representation, our results show that plurality elections provide more scope for translating physical attractiveness into electoral success than proportional representation. Whether political parties strategically use the beauty premium to optimize their electoral objectives is less clear. Physically attractive MPs, however, allow themselves to dissent more often, i.e. they vote more often against the party line than their less attractive peers.

Keywords: attractiveness of politicians, safe district, party strategies, electoral success, electoral system

JEL Classification: D720, J450, J700

Suggested Citation

Potrafke, Niklas and Rösch, Marcus and Ursprung, Heinrich, Election Systems, the "Beauty Premium" in Politics, and the Beauty of Dissent (2020). CESifo Working Paper No. 8296, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3603831

Niklas Potrafke (Contact Author)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Marcus Rösch

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
3000 DR Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland 3062PA
Netherlands

Heinrich Ursprung

University of Konstanz ( email )

Konstanz, D-78457
Germany
+49 7531 88 3713 (Phone)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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