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Comparing Candidate Selection: A Feminist Institutionalist Approach

  • Elin Bjarnegård and Meryl Kenny


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.



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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:



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