Since the early 1990s, when the convergence of ideologies and the consolidation of a climate of economic security in the West was substituted by the appearance of new voting criteria, the voters were particularly interested in the image of the candidates as an orientating factor of their choices .
 
By Dr.Ioannis Konstantinidis*
 
The electoral victories of the then “fourty-year-olds” Bill Clinton in the United States and Tony Blair in Britain were interpreted largely through the prism of the image of the two candidates with prominent features of this age and the air of renewal of political discourse and behavior. The most recent success of today’s “fourty-year-olds” Matteo Renzi in Italy Justin Trudeau in Canada, but also Alexis Tsipras, revived the discussion on the value of youth as a presumption of the possibility of changing the way in which the parties operate and exercised governance.
 
The pending showdown to elect a new president of the New Democracy Party also revolved around the need of revival, and the age diversity of candidates for the nomination often emerges as differentiation element. But is the comparatively younger age a sufficient condition to attract electoral audience or are other properties required to be met for the new candidate to benefit from the wide impact?
 
The relevant question in Greek politics is usually associated with two properties: the professional career of the applicant and his affinity with other political figures. The connection is not accidental because the younger age candidates empirically identified in the country with cases of candidates who either had not been employed or came from families of former politicians. In a recent quantitative research, ProRata Company attempted to measure the effect of these two properties in combination with the early age of a virtual candidate through an experiment.
 
A section of the used sample was asked to give the possibility to choose a 40 year old neophyte candidate from the Party list, without knowing anything about him. 56% of them gave probability of selection of the candidate above 80%, indicating the high acceptance that the comparatively young age of a candidate automatically creates among the electoral public. An equal number of the portion of the sample was asked to give the possibility to choose a neophyte candidate 40 of years and positively known for his professional activity in the area. The percentage of those who have given probability over 80% again reached the same height at 54%, an indication that the additional information on the professional career of the candidate did not add to the appeal. It is, therefore, on the other hand, that the absence of professional experience does not reduce the popularity of a new age candidate.
 
The most important finding, however regards the probability of selecting an emerging 40 year old candidate gave third part of the sample which was given the additional information that the candidate is the son of a former MP of the region. Only 29% of those gave probability of being elected over 80% for such a candidate, a comparison which shows - given that these two experimental conditions had the only difference in information for origin- shows that the origin of a candidate from "an old political family" operates visibly against him, at least in a period of widespread suspicion towards the so-called "old political system" of the country.
 
The negative charge of the origin could be mitigated by a successful professional career of the candidate who is a political family offspring. In this fourth survey sample section was asked to give the probability of selection of a candidate of 40 years, professionally successful and son of a former MP, to measure any balancing effect on the origin function by the one of the career path. Only 35% of this segment gave chance to choose such a candidate over 80%, which indicates that the positive business activity cannot limit the negative predispositions of the electorate public towards the notion of “nepotism” in politics. It is likely that the value of the career path of a political family offspring was stained by the same origin, as the first (successful career) is regarded as a product of the second (son of an MP).
 
Youth does not guarantee certain success in a political confrontation, despite the fact that other essential properties, such as the professional background of the candidates, do not seem to play an important role in the evaluation of persons. The origin of a new candidate from a "political family" is an impediment for the range of his appeal. Rightly or wrongly, nepotism disturbs the electoral audience.
 

*Dr.Ioannis Konstantinidis is an Assistant Professor at the University of Macedonia teaching political systems and electoral behaviour. He collaborates with the ProRata public opinion and Research Company.


This article was originally published in greek for Free Sunday. Translation made by Greek Liberties Monitor.