While politicians’ remuneration is a key issue in the relationship between citizens and politicians, there is still limited knowledge about the politicians’ own views on this issue. This article investigates how politicians’ attitudes regarding pay are affected by their motivation, political ideology and party position as well as institutional position. Using data from a survey among municipal politicians in Denmark (n = 838), our analyses suggest that politicians with different levels of extrinsic motivation sort into parties with different political ideologies. Left‐wing politicians express a strong distaste for high pay, probably for strategic as well as ideological reasons. In addition, institutional position matters. Chairmen prefer higher rewards for chairmen, but the backbenchers also prefer higher rewards for the chairmen—if they come from the same party. The results help us understand why politicians do not necessarily act in line with the fundamental assumption that individuals prefer more pay to less.