I would rather vote for a party than an individual politician, especially when parties are allowed to define their own internal structure and their own rules for deciding how to vote (as I suggested before). Individual politicians have big problems with commitment credibility because it is difficult to keep tabs on them to make sure they are doing what they said they were going to do. Politicians that have been around for a while tend to be more credible because they have a reputation to protect and have at least shown that they will not do the opposite of what they campaigned on, but this only goes so far because it is still difficult to monitor them and because political careers are bounded. Parties which can define their own internal structure can mitigate both these problems by adopting voting rules which give the party more credibility. For example, if a party has an internal council that decides its votes it will have a good deal of credibility because it is very difficult to maintain a conspiracy with a large number of people. Additionally, the lifespan of a party is unbounded, unlike that of individual politicians, so the time frame to build up a good reputation is much longer. When parties are allowed to define their rules for deciding votes and internal structure, competition between parties will create strong incentives to adopt rules which lead to party behavior that appeals to voters, such as transparency, commitment credibility and time consistency.

I suspect that parties in closed-list proportional representation systems are a good deal like parties which can define own voting decision rules, because their party structures have total control over who fills the seats allocated to the party so it has ultimate control over how the party votes. I am not sure how much of an improvement allowing parties to have more flexible structure would improve party behavior.

My appreciation for strong political parties is actually a complete reversal for me. I used to be deeply skeptical of political parties, especially “official” ones that receive votes directly, but I consideration has lead me to favor parties over people.

Would you rather vote for a person rather than a party? If so, why?