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Bringing Party Ideology Back In: Do Left-Wing Parties Enhance the Share of Women MPs?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 October 2018

Andrés Santana
Affiliation:
Autonomous University of Madrid
Susana Aguilar
Affiliation:
Complutense University of Madrid

Abstract

This article analyzes the relationship between parties and the representation of women in Spanish subnational legislatures. We argue that studies on party ideology and gender have generally failed to (a) acknowledge the effect of electoral time: the left started to recruit women earlier, when their number was low and they were mainly perceived as liabilities; and (b) distinguish between two different party mechanisms: parties can be gate openers and ease the access of newcomers to the legislature, and they can be career promoters, which facilitate the parliamentary continuity of incumbents. Drawing on a database containing comprehensive information about the population of regional members of parliament (MPs) (N = 5,353) in 138 elections and focusing on the two most prominent parties, the conservative People's Party and the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party), we test the hypothesis that left-wing parties outperform right-wing parties concerning gender representation. Our statistical analyses show that electoral time blurs the effect of ideology on the share of women MPs. Once time is controlled for, the socialists emerge as systematically recruiting more women. Concerning the two mechanisms, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party fares better as a gate opener, while the People's Party, unexpectedly, excels as a career promoter.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association 2018 

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Footnotes

We are grateful to Professor Xavier Coller for having masterminded the Bapolau database. We also want to express our gratitude to Professor Nigel Townson for revising the English.

References

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