Based on past research and theoretical considerations presented in the previous sections, we expect to observe ballot position effects in both countries. Their magnitude and the explanatory potential of models using ballot position effects, however, should be different in Poland and the Czech Republic, due to the mandatory versus optional-preference voting systems. Hence, we formulate our first hypothesis concerning candidates’ placement on the ballot, consisting of three points. First, we expect to find benefits of running from the top position on the ballot in both countries.
H1a: Candidates occupying the first position on their party lists will receive a systematically higher percentage of their party list vote than candidates placed lower on their party lists.
The effect will “spill over” to candidates situated close to the top of the ballot, as suggested by Bein and Hecock (1957/1973: 64), and become weaker for candidates positioned near the end of the party list.
H1b: The further candidates are placed from the top of their party list, the weaker the advantage derived from the ballot position.
Finally, in the case of candidates running from the very last position, we may expect the reversal of the overall trend, which corresponds with the concept of the reversed J-curve. This can be due to voters voting against the top ranked candidates (Miller and Krosnick 1998: 294), or because the last position is perceived as an alternative focal point on the ballot (Bein and Hecock 1957/1973: 11).
H1c: Candidates occupying the last position on their party list will receive a systematically higher percentage of their party list vote than may be expected based on the distance of their position from the top of the list.
Two factors discussed by Brockington (2003) – the amount of accessible information and electoral rules – suggest that we will observe differences in the magnitude of ballot position effects in Poland and the Czech Republic. In terms of Brockington’s (2003) types of information voters use in decision making, Czech voters have information advantages over the Poles. In the Czech Republic, voters receive the ballots in the mail prior to Election Day, which gives them...