Summary and conclusions

The results of the empirical analyses reported in this paper extend the available knowledge on the impact of politicians' physical attractiveness. Until now it could be ascertained that, at national parliamentary elections, candidates' physical attractiveness in the local constituencies is beneficial to their personal vote share and/or the constituency vote share of their respective parties (Efran and Patterson 1974; Klein and Rosar 2008; Rosar et al. 2008). It was also demonstrated that candidates in presidential elections (Rosar et al. 2012) and on open lists in proportional representation electoral systems (Berggren et al. 2010; Lutz 2010) benefit from their attractiveness.

Now it may also be asserted that a comparable situation exists for the front-runners of parties in the much larger (in some cases national) multi-member constituencies at the elections for the European Parliament. The extent to which this finding can be generalized to the front-runners at national parliamentary elections must, however, remain inconclusive. Due to the low level of citizens' interest in European elections it cannot be excluded that the laws underpinning these elections are different to the ones for national parliaments. This requires further research in future.

That the effects of the attractiveness of front-runners on the electoral success of their parties at the European election 2004 have been proved is not very surprising: the positive effects of physical attractiveness are widely documented in sociopsychological literature for many different areas of life. To our mind, there is no reasonable basis for the supposition that the political sphere should be an exception. What is much more surprising is that empirical research into the impact of politicians' attractiveness has hitherto only been accepted with much hesitation. Here we do not wish to speculate as to the reasons for this, rather we would like to contend that such issues are addressed much more thoroughly in future. Robust and detailed knowledge about the effects of politicians' physical attractiveness is not only important in terms of basic scientific research. Moreover it also enables an informed societal discussion of the normative evaluation of these influences and of possible politico-institutional counteractive measures. For example, our analyses have shown that the introduction of subnational constituencies might help to reduce the effect of front-runners' attractiveness on the election result.

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