Hostname: page-component-5db6c4db9b-v64r6 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-03-25T05:12:44.512Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Comparing Candidate Selection: A Feminist Institutionalist Approach

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 April 2016


This contribution evaluates the theoretical and methodological challenges of researching the gendered dynamics of candidate selection in comparative perspective. It argues that comparative studies should take into account not only the gendered nature of political parties and their wider institutional context, but must also investigate the informal aspects of the selection process and their gendered consequences. The article explores these dynamics by revisiting original in-depth research on the candidate selection process in two different settings – Thailand and Scotland. Using a common analytical framework, the article reflects on this work and points to two key aspects of the interaction between formal and informal rules – the gendered consequences of informal party recruitment and of local influence over candidate selection – which are critically important for understanding the continuity of male political dominance and female under-representation. The article concludes by outlining a research agenda for comparative work on gender, institutions and candidate selection and pointing to future directions for work in this area.

Copyright © The Author(s). Published by Government and Opposition Limited and Cambridge University Press 2016 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Elin Bjarnegård is Associate Professor in the Department of Government at Uppsala University. Contact email:

Meryl Kenny is a Lecturer in the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh. Contact email:


Arghiros, D. (2001), Democracy, Development, and Decentralization in Provincial Thailand (Richmond: Curzon Press).Google Scholar
Ashe, J. and Stewart, K. (2012), ‘Legislative Recruitment: Using Diagnostic Testing to Explain Underrepresentation’, Party Politics, 18(5): 687707.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bergqvist, C., Bjarnegård, E. and Zetterberg, P. (2013), ‘Analyzing Failure, Understanding Success: A Research Strategy for Explaining Gender Equality Policy Adoption’, NORA – Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, 21(4): 280295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bjarnegård, E. (2013), Gender, Informal Institutions and Political Recruitment: Explaining Male Dominance in Parliamentary Representation (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bjarnegård, E and Kenny, M. (2015), ‘Revealing the “Secret Garden”: The Informal Dimensions of Political Recruitment’, Politics and Gender, 11(4): 748753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bjarnegård, E, Kenny, M. and Zetterberg, P. (2016), ‘Political Parties and Gender Quota Implementation: The Role of Bureaucratized Candidate Selection Procedures’, Comparative Politics, 48(3).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bradbury, J., Mitchell, J., Bennie, L. and Denver, D. (2000), ‘Candidate Selection, Devolution and Modernization: The Selection of Labour Party Candidates for the 1999 Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly Elections’, in P. Cowley, D. Denver, A. Russell and L. Harrison (eds), British Elections and Parties Review Vol. 10 (London: Frank Cass): 151172.Google Scholar
Brown, A. (2001), ‘Women and Politics in Scotland’, in E. Breitenbach and F. Mackay (eds), Women and Contemporary Scottish Politics (Edinburgh: Polygon): 213229.Google Scholar
Camp, R. (1979), ‘Women and Political Leadership in Mexico: A Comparative Study of Female and Male Political Elites’, Journal of Politics, 41(2): 417441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chapman, J. (1993), Politics, Feminism and the Reformation of Gender (London: Routledge).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chappell, L. and Waylen, G. (2013), ‘Gender and the Hidden Life of Institutions’, Public Administration, 91(3): 599615.Google Scholar
Collinson, D.L. and Hearn, J. (2005), ‘Men and Masculinities in Work, Organizations, and Management’, in E. Kimmel, J. Hearn and B. Connell (eds), Handbook of Studies on Men and Masculinities (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage): 289310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Denver, D. (1988), ‘Britain: Centralized Parties with Decentralized Selection’, in M. Gallagher and M. Marsh (eds), Candidate Selection in Comparative Perspective: The Secret Garden of Politics (London: Sage): 4771.Google Scholar
Freidenvall, L. (2006), ‘Vägen Till Varannan Damernas. Om Kvinnorepresentation, Kvotering Och Kandidaturval i Svensk Politik 1970–2002’, thesis, Department of Political Science, Stockholm University.Google Scholar
Gallagher, M. and Marsh, M. (1988) (eds), Candidate Selection in Comparative Perspective: The Secret Garden of Politics (London: Sage).Google Scholar
Hawkesworth, M. (2005), ‘Engendering Political Science: An Immodest Proposal’, Politics and Gender, 1(1): 141156.Google Scholar
Helmke, G. and Levitsky, S. (2004), ‘Informal Institutions and Comparative Politics: A Research Agenda’, Perspectives on Politics, 2(4): 725740.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hinojosa, M. (2012), Selecting Women, Electing Women: Political Representation and Candidate Selection in Latin America (Philadelphia: Temple University Press).Google Scholar
Holgersson, C. (2013), ‘Recruiting Managing Directors: Doing Homosociality’, Gender, Work & Organization, 20(4): 454466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jalalzai, F. (2013), Shattered, Cracked, or Firmly Intact? Women and the Executive Glass Ceiling Worldwide (Oxford: Oxford University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kathlene, L. (1995), ‘Position Power versus Gender Power: Who Holds the Floor’, in G. Duerst-Lahti and R.M. Kelly (eds), Gender Power, Leadership and Governance (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press): 167193.Google Scholar
Kenny, M. (2013), Gender and Political Recruitment: Theorizing Institutional Change (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kenny, M. (2014), ‘A Feminist Institutionalist Approach’, Politics and Gender, 10(4): 679684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kenny, M., Verge, T. and Mackay, F. (2014), ‘When is Contagion not Very Contagious? Dynamics of Women’s Political Representation in Scotland’, Parliamentary Affairs, 67(4): 866886.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kenny, M. and Verge, T. (2013), ‘Decentralization, Political Parties and Women’s Representation: Evidence from Spain and Britain’, Publius: The Journal of Federalism, 43(1): 109128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kittilson, M.C. (2006), Challenging Parties, Changing Parliaments: Women and Elected Office in Contemporary Western Europe (Columbus: Ohio State University Press).Google Scholar
Kittilson, M.C. (2013), ‘Political Parties’, in G. Waylen, K. Celis, J. Kantola and L. Weldon (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Gender and Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press): 536554.Google Scholar
Krook, M.L. and Mackay, F. (2011) (eds), Gender, Politics and Institutions: Towards a Feminist Institutionalism (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lovenduski, J. (2005), Feminizing Politics (Cambridge: Polity Press).Google Scholar
Lovenduski, J. (2011), ‘Foreword’, in M.L. Krook and F. Mackay (eds), Gender, Politics and Institutions (Basingstoke: Palgrave): viixi.Google Scholar
Lovenduski, J. (2016), ‘The Supply and Demand Model of Candidate Selection: Some Reflections’, Government and Opposition, 51(3): 513528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lovenduski, J. and Norris, P. (1989), ‘Selecting Women Candidates: Obstacles to the Feminisation of the House of Commons’, European Journal of Political Research, 17(3): 533562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lovenduski, J. and Norris, P. (1993) (eds), Gender and Party Politics (London: Sage).Google Scholar
Lowndes, V. (2005), ‘Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed …’, Policy Studies, 26(3): 291309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mackay, F. (2004), ‘Women and the Labour Party in Scotland’, in G. Hassan (ed.), The Scottish Labour Party (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press): 104123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mackay, F. (2014), ‘Nested Newness, Institutional Innovation, and the Gendered Limits of Change’, Politics and Gender, 10(4): 549571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mackay, F., Kenny, M. and Chappell, L. (2010), ‘New Institutionalism through a Gender Lens: Towards a Feminist Institutionalism?’, International Political Science Review, 31(5): 573588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Matland, R.E. (2005), ‘Enhancing Women’s Political Participation: Legislative Recruitment and Electoral Systems’, in J. Ballington and A. Karam (eds), Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers (Stockholm: IDEA): 93111.Google Scholar
Murray, R. (2010), Parties, Gender Quotas and Candidate Selection in France (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nelson, M.H. (2005), ‘Analyzing Provincial Political Structures in Thailand: Phuak, Trakun, and Hua Khanaen’, in S. Frost (ed.), SEARC Working Paper Series (Hong Kong: Southeast Asia Research Centre (SEARC) of the City University of Hong Kong).Google Scholar
Norris, P. (1996), ‘Legislative Recruitment’, in L. LeDuc, R.G. Niemi and P. Norris (eds), Comparing Democracies: Elections and Voting in Global Perspective (London: Sage): 184215.Google Scholar
Norris, P. (1997) (ed.), Passages to Power, Legislative Recruitment in Advanced Democracies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
Norris, P. and Lovenduski, J. (1995), Political Recruitment: Gender, Race and Class in British Parliament (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
Organic Act on Political Parties (1998), Scholar
Pierson, P. (2004), Politics in Time: History, Institutions and Social Analysis (Princeton: Princeton University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Puwar, N. (2004), Space Invaders: Race, Gender and Bodies Out of Place (Oxford: Berg Publishers).Google Scholar
Rahat, G. and Hazan, R.Y. (2001), ‘Candidate Selection Methods: An Analytical Framework’, Party Politics, 7(3): 297322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Siavelis, P. and Morgenstern, S. (2008) (eds), Pathways to Power: Political Recruitment and Candidate Selection in Latin America (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press).Google Scholar
Verge, T. and de la Fuente, M. (2014), ‘Playing with Different Cards: Party Politics, Gender Quotas and Women’s Empowerment’, International Political Science Review, 35(1): 6779.CrossRefGoogle Scholar