We ask three questions. First, do election systems differ in how they translate physical attractiveness of candidates into electoral success? Second, do political parties strategically exploit the “beauty premium” when deciding on which candidates to nominate, and, third, do elected MPs use their beauty premium to reap some independence from their party? Using the German election system that combines first-past-the-post election with party-list proportional representation, our results show that plurality elections provide more scope for translating physical attractiveness into electoral success than proportional representation. Whether political parties strategically use the beauty premium to optimize their electoral objectives is less clear. Physically attractive MPs, however, allow themselves to dissent more often, i.e. they vote more often against the party line than their less attractive peers.

Attractiveness of politicians Safe district, Party strategies, Electoral success, Electoral system
Economic Models of Political Processes: Rent-Seeking, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior (jel D72), Public Sector Labor Markets (jel J45), Labor Discrimination: General (jel J70)
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2020.101900, hdl.handle.net/1765/127532
European Journal of Political Economy
Department of Applied Economics

Potrafke, N., Rosch, M.A., & Ursprung, H. (2020). Election systems, the “beauty premium” in politics, and the beauty of dissent. European Journal of Political Economy. doi:10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2020.101900