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Ministerial and parliamentary elites in multilevel Spain 1977-2009

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In decentralized European parliamentary democracies future governing elites often acquire political experience and attain top positions by passing through sub-national political institutions. In doing so, elites circumvent and reduce the importance of national parliaments. Previous research has advanced several explanations for this pattern: Europe's tradition of bureaucratic government; parties with open methods for selecting parliamentary candidates; the "presidentialization" and Europeanization of national political systems. Since its transition to democracy in 1977, Spain has had an exceptionally small proportion of former MPs in its national cabinets. I employ data for Spanish ministers between 1977-2009 demonstrating the passage of a large proportion of cabinet ministers through local and regional government levels rather than the national parliament, the Cortes Generales. I show that multilevel rather than parliamentary political careers characterize ministerial elite recruitment, and I discuss the consequences for Spain's parliamentary democracy

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