The main objective of IntraComp is to increase the level of knowledge concerning the mechanisms of electoral competition between candidates running for the same party (i.e. intraparty competition) in proportional electoral systems.

The specific research question that IntraComp tackles is why voters are represented by certain types of politicians. As such, IntraComp sets out to contribute with increased knowledge on the function of representative democracy, and in particularly of how an increased personalisation of politics and competition on the intraparty dimension influence accountability and representation – the two mechanisms by which voters’ preferences are being articulated within a representative democratic system.

The project studies the strategies of the three central actors of the representative chain: voters, candidates and parties. The novelty of IntraComp is the encompassing strategy of the project, the rich and varied data and methods that are used to test the outlined theories, including interviews, surveys, official statistics and experiments.

The main empirical focus of the project is on the Finnish open list PR system which can be considered as a critical case. However, we strive to test our theories on other relevant cases to the extent that data availability allows.

IntraComp is organized within the framework of three interrelated work packages, targeted towards each of the three actors of interest:

Work package 1. – Party nomination strategies

The first work package is devoted to the party perspective, where we aim at unravelling the central strategies applied by parties when nominating candidates for election. This WP will use two methodological approaches: interviews with party secretaries and party officials responsible for the nomination process, and analyses of the actual outcome of party nominations based on register and bibliographic data on all nominated candidates in Finnish parliamentary elections 1995–2019, in combination with data on programmatic appeals by candidates from voting advice applications.

Work package 2. – Candidate strategies

The second work package is devoted to the candidate perspective, and to unravelling the strategies applied by candidates in order to be successful under high levels of intraparty competition. Within this WP we make use of several sets of data that will allow us to target the research question from several different angles: register and blibliographic data on candidates nominated in parliamentary elections 1995–2019, data on programmatic appeals by candidates derived from voting advice applications, The Finnish Candidates Survey (FCS) and the Comparative Candidates Survey (CCS).

Work package 3. – Voter strategies

The third work package is devoted to the voter perspective and to the analyses of factors that determine the preferential vote. In this WP, we apply two methodological approaches: survey data and experimental designs. The primary source of survey data is the Finnish National Election Study 2003–2015, used to explore individual level variation in candidate choice, and self-reported motivations for candidate choice. The experimental approach rests on online experiments, designed to test a host of causal hypotheses concerning preferential voting.