A question I often have regarding proportional electoral systems in which parties present ranked lists is whether or not anyone really cares about the candidates that receive very low ranks. In systems in which lists are party-ranked–i.e. any list-PR system that is not fully open–for all but a locally dominant party, the large majority of candidates nominated are certain not to win a seat, regardless of how well the party performs.
Given that so many candidates will not be elected anyway, would parties take care in the composition of their lists below the slots from which they may elect candidates, and would voters even be aware of who is on the list?
From the Czech Republic comes a story that suggests “yes.”
The Green party has asked the election commissioner to delete two candidates from one of its lists for the upcoming (2-3 June) general election. One of these candidates was ranked last on the list in the district, and the other fifth. The district in question is Moravsko-Slezsky (in which the main city is Ostrava), and its district magnitude is 23. However, the Green party is very small in the Czech Republic, having won no seats at the last, 2002, election. Thus, even in such a large district, a Green nominated at the fifth position is surely not a “serious” candidate.
The party wants the candidates removed because one publicly reported a brawl between the other candidate and the husband of another party official, brining a whole new dimension to the idea of intra-party conflict. [Read full story]
I should note that in the Czech Republic, voters can cast intraparty preference votes. So it is not a closed list. However, the quota of preference votes required to change the party-provided rank order is quite high, and very rarely do candidates vault over other candidates ranked higher by the party. Thus it is not an open list, either, as that term should be reserved for systems in which preference votes are the sole determinant of the final list order. The Czech system is in the category of the “flexible” list, though in practice it is not very flexible in any meaningful sense.
Does the mere existence of preference votes even in the Czech (in)flexble list make parties more sensitive than would be the case in a fully closed list to the personal reputations of candidates (such as those who get into brawls)? I wish I knew the answer.