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Party organization and concurrent multi-level local campaigning: The 2007 Scottish elections under MMP and STV

Party organization and concurrent multi-level local campaigning: The 2007 Scottish elections under MMP and STV

Abstract

Parties often have to campaign for two or more levels of office at the same time. However, declining levels of organization means that the demands of concurrent elections can potentially increase the demands on volunteer party organizations considerably. These demands are multiplied by the concurrent use of different electoral systems which provide party organizations with different incentives. The article examines how party organizations deal with such circumstances through a study of constituency party organizations in the 2007 Scottish parliamentary and local government elections. Parties were forced to campaign concurrently at three levels – local council, Scottish Parliament constituency and regional list – under two different electoral systems, STV (single-transferable vote) and MMP (mixed-member proportional). I argue that: there may be economies of scale for party organizations in fighting concurrent elections; while there may be evidence of vote-maximization activity at each level, local organizations are likely to give priority to their efforts towards higher level institutions and those on which their efforts potentially have a direct effort; and that the degree of local campaign effort is mediated by the extent of party organization and previous success in the area concerned.
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