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Are Parties Biased Against Female Incumbents? Gender and Incumbent Renomination in a Flexible-List PR System
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government. Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES).ORCID iD: micsm790
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Political recruitment criteria favour male aspirants, leading to stark underrepresentation of women among political novices. Past research shows that party recruiters are less likely to recruit female aspirants because they find them less electable, less predictable and less able to satisfactorily carry out legislative studies. An expectation has been advanced in the literature that once women clear the initial recruitment hurdle and become politicians, their incumbency status might challenge the stereotypes the party elites maintain about them (learning mechanism). This assumption might be too idealistic, however, as past feminist institutionalism literature points to remarkable stickiness of informal rules and norms and profound resistance to change. Mapping the renomination fortunes of all Czech legislators elected between 1996 and 2017, this study shows that female incumbents are evaluated differently on some aspects of their legislative performance with party-line loyalty standing out in the most significant way. While loyal male incumbents appear to be rewarded with a better ballot spot at the next election, the opposite is true for female incumbents. The paper thus provides a mixed support for the learning mechanism theory.

Keywords [en]
party bias, recruitment, renomination, gender, flexible-list proportional representation
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-379685OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-379685DiVA, id: diva2:1297710
Available from: 2019-03-20 Created: 2019-03-20 Last updated: 2019-03-20
In thesis
1. Incumbent Renomination: Accountability and Gender Bias
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Incumbent Renomination: Accountability and Gender Bias
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Party recruiters in proportional-representation (PR) systems are forced to do what their majoritarian counterparts are not: they need to rank-order all their candidates on the party ballots based on whom they most wish to get elected. Consequently, new candidates and incumbents alike compete for a limited number of electable ballot slots. This means that incumbent legislators in PR settings are far from guaranteed an electable spot on the party ballot, but instead need to go through a new selection round ahead of every election. This dissertation offers a pioneering study of incumbent renomination in flexible-list PR settings. The aim is to investigate whether incumbents’ electoral and legislative performance forms the basis of the selection criteria used by party recruiters when renomination decisions are made. The dissertation relies on a wide array of unique data, including a panel dataset of all Czech legislators elected in seven consecutive elections between 1996 and 2017 as well as rich elite-interview and participant-observation data collected in the Slovak parliament. 

The three essays that comprise this dissertation broadly focus on two dimensions of incumbent renomination: accountability and gender bias. Essay I critically examines the potential role incumbent renomination plays in fostering individual accountability in PR systems where party accountability looms large. Empirical tests show that the candidates placed in non-electable ballot spots who succeed in attracting a large number of votes are indeed rewarded with a more electable ballot spot in the next election. Essays II and III examine whether incumbent renomination can provide the cure for the chronic underrepresentation of women in politics by offering an avenue where party selectors’ stereotypical views of women’s unsuitability for a political career can be challenged. The results disprove this expectation and show that female incumbents in both established and new parties get different returns on their electoral and legislative performance when renomination decisions are made. It is further shown that female incumbents continue to face structural constraints that limit their ability to excel in tasks that form the backbone of incumbents’ evaluation at renomination. 

Taken together, this dissertation demonstrates that the study of incumbent renomination can offer an indispensable contribution to the debates on accountability, delegation and representation in democratic systems. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2019. p. 60
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 165
Keywords
political recruitment, party politics, proportional representation, gender, incumbency, re-selection, accountability, representation, delegation, preference voting, flexible lists, Czech Republic, Slovakia.
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-379734 (URN)978-91-513-0606-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-05-10, Brusewitzsalen, Department of Government, Östra Ågatan 19, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-04-16 Created: 2019-03-20 Last updated: 2019-06-18

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