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Gender Equality Reforms on an Uneven Playing Field: Candidate Selection and Quota Implementation in Electoral Authoritarian Tanzania


This article investigates the dynamics that gender quota reforms create within and between government and opposition parties in electoral authoritarian dominant-party states. A dominant-party state regularly holds relatively competitive elections, but the political playing field is skewed in favour of the government party. We investigate the circumstances under which gender quotas’ goal of furthering political gender equality within political parties can be reconciled with parties’ electoral concerns. We address these issues by analysing the implementation of reserved seats by the three largest parties in the dominant-party state of Tanzania. The empirical analysis suggests that the uneven playing field leaves an imprint on the specific priorities parties make when implementing candidate selection reforms. Because of large resource gaps between parties, the ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi – (CCM), is able to reconcile gender equality concerns with power-maximizing partisan strategies to a greater extent than the opposition parties.

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

Pär Zetterberg is Associate Professor in the Department of Government at Uppsala University. Contact email:

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Government and Opposition
  • ISSN: 0017-257X
  • EISSN: 1477-7053
  • URL: /core/journals/government-and-opposition
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