Candidates on closed lists: If only Glick had been ranked higher

I do this occasional series on party lists, and how candidates can matter, even when the list is closed (meaning voters can’t vote for a specific candidate, and the order in which candidates would be elected is set by the party, prior to the election).

Here is another one for the files.

An official of the New Right party in Israel has claimed that the party would have cleared the 3.25% threshold if only one of its candidates, Caroline Glick, had been ranked in the top 4. A party that clears the threshold gets 4 seats as a minimum. Glick, a US-born author, was ranked 6th.

The official making the claim is none other than Jeremy Saltan, whose polling aggregations I referred to throughout the campaign. He was New Right’s head of outreach to English-speaking voters.

Saltan is quoted in the Times of Israel as saying, “Already during the campaign Anglos told me they would have voted for us if we put her higher.”

Further, “Saltan said the party should have emphasized that it was the only party with a US-born candidate featured prominently on its slate and campaign.”

While I would tend to be a little skeptical of a claim like this, I would not rule it out. In the final results, the party missed the threshold by a slim margin, ending up with 3.22%. So it is possible that potential Anglo voters could have stayed with the party, rather than defect to Likud (or United Right or even Zehut) had they been more confident it would clear the threshold, and that Glick would be elected.

My main skepticism is that the party was generally polling at more than 4 seats, so if anything, the fact that she was individually marginal, but the party (allegedly) was not, should have encouraged more voters, not fewer, to favor New Right if they were otherwise wavering.

Anyway, it is always good to have another one for the “candidates matter, even in closed lists” file.

11 thoughts on “Candidates on closed lists: If only Glick had been ranked higher

  1. In Spain’s 1993 general election, the Catalan nationalist CiU coalition included Montserrat Caballé – the world-famous operatic soprano – on the last place of its list in Barcelona province. Being a closed list in a 32-seat constituency, she had zero chance of being elected – CiU would go on to win 10 seats in the province with 30.1% of the vote – but the nomination got a fair amount of press coverage all the same.

    Meanwhile, PGC, a nationalist party in the Canary Islands, included tenor Alfredo Kraus on the last place of its list in Las Palmas province (the only district contested by the party in the 1993 election). Although PGC fared poorly – it only won 3.6% of the vote in Las Palmas and no seats – Kraus’ nomination also got a fair amount of press coverage.

    • Another example from Spain: at the 2015 Catalan election, famous soccer coach Josep ‘Pep’ Guardiola was 85th and last on the ‘Junts pel Sí’ (Together for Yes) list in the Barcelona constituency.

      I believe the Dutch refer to this phenomenon as ‘lijstduwen’ or “list-pushing”.

    • I’ve heard of Belgian parties placing known candidates last on their lists, too. Perhaps there it makes a little more sense–it is a flexible list, and the bottom position might be more noticeable than something in the middle, if the goal is simply to attract voters to vote for some candidate on the list when otherwise they might vote for another list.

      But in a closed list, the last rank does not seem to make sense for anyone prominent. Yet I know that sometimes Israeli parties place someone known at the last rank, too. There may be something a phenomenon here to think more about.

      • I mean, it might make sense if you wanted to associate someone who was uninterested in serving in the legislature with the campaign of the party.

      • In Belgium “the bottom position might be more noticeable than something in the middle.” In fact it is the second-best position, after the list-topper. I suspect it is because maverick voters are voting for the underdog. Has anyone studied this?

  2. The Dutch and Belgian ones are open-list and lijstduwers frequently get enough votes to win a seat (in which case they generally decline and the seat goes to the next place on the party list).

    My favorite lijstduwer is Tiririca, a singer/clown in Brazil who gets enough votes to get several other members of his otherwise obscure party into parliament, though he actually does retain his seat. Aside from his fame, his easy to remember candidate number (2222) has to help as well.

    This is all only marginally relevant to the impact on closed lists, though. I think Meretz’ improved performance in Druze areas (and in particular the hometown of their Druze candidate) may be a better example. They also had an Ethiopian candidate at #6 and I would be interested to see whether they increased their vote with that community as well (though I don’t know whether Ethiopians are concentrated enough at the polling place level to be able to analyze that).

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