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Opening Up the Black Box: Gender and Candidate Selection in a New Era

  • Meryl Kenny and Tània Verge

Recent global developments, including the feminization of parliaments and the rise of gender quotas, have transformed the ways in which parties and legislatures operate. This introduction to the special issue ‘Candidate Selection: Parties and Legislatures in a New Era’ puts these recent developments in context, making the case for revisiting the ‘secret garden’ of candidate selection in light of this ‘new era’ in politics. It sets out a critical dialogue between party politics and gender politics scholarship and points to the need for more research on how political parties facilitate or block women’s access to political office. Building on the burgeoning research on gender and political recruitment, it outlines how a gendered and institutional approach allows us to retheorize candidate selection processes and opens up new avenues for empirically examining the pathways prior to election. The article then introduces the papers in this special issue and concludes by evaluating the main implications of gendering analyses of candidate selection and party politics more broadly.

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

Tània Verge is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Contact email:

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