In list proportional representation (PR) systems, parties shape political selection. We propose a theory of party list choice and elections in list PR systems. Our results describe how a party allocates candidates of heterogeneous quality across list ranks depending on (1) its policy goals and (2) its competitive environment. We test our predictions on the universe of Swedish local politicians from 1991 to 2014. Although parties assign better candidates to higher ranks at all ballot levels, the pattern is most pronounced among electorally advantaged parties that have the strongest prospect of controlling the executive. Our findings challenge conventional accounts of candidate selection in which parties prioritize candidate quality in their nomination strategies only when constrained by electoral incentives.