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IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy Working Paper Series
IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy

No 2013:14:
Political training as a pathway to power: the impact of participation in student union councils on candidate emergence

Martin Lundin (), Oskar Nordström Skans () and Pär Zetterberg ()

Abstract: We test the hypothesis that political training (experiences of debates, negotiations, coalition-building, etc.) in voluntary associations increases the probability of becoming a candidate in public elections. We apply a regression discontinuity design, comparing bare winners and bare losers in student union (SU) elections, to data on 5,000 SU candidates at Swedish universities (1982–2005). This data is linked to information on all candidates in Swedish public elections (1991–2010). As hypothesized, students who were elected to the SU council, and thereby received political training, were 34 percent (6 percentage points) more likely to run for public office than SU council candidates who did not win a seat. The analysis contributes to political recruitment literature by identifying arenas outside of representative democratic institutions that facilitate the step into election processes. It also provides evidence to an increasingly contested issue within political participation research by showing that activities in associations increase political involvement.

Keywords: Political training; political recruitment; political participation; public elections; associations; regression discontinuity; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: D72; I20; (follow links to similar papers)

36 pages, June 17, 2013

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This paper is published as:
Lundin, Martin, Oskar Nordström Skans and Pär Zetterberg, (2016), 'Leadership Experiences Within Civil Organizations and Candidacy in Public Elections: Causal Evidence from a Quasi-Experimental Approach', Political Behavior, Vol. 38, June, No. 2, pages 433-454



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