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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Which Candidate Selection Method Is More Democratic?


The aim of this article is to open the debate on the question, “Which candidate selection method is more democratic?” It does this by suggesting guidelines for identifying the ramifications of central elements of candidate selection methods for various democratic dimensions – participation, competition, representation and responsiveness – and by analyzing their possible role in supplying checks and balances. It proposes employing a three-stage candidate selection method, in which, in the first stage, a small committee appoints candidates to a short list; in the second stage, a selected party agency may add or remove candidates using a special procedure (absolute majority vote, for example) and it would also ratify the re-adoption of incumbent candidates; and, finally, party members would select candidates for safe seats or safe list positions among the proposed candidates. The article also recommends using moderate requirements for candidacy; the use of a non-majoritarian voting method; and allowing the national center a say in candidate selection.

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