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Parties, Candidates and Gendered Political Recruitment in Closed-List Proportional Representation Systems: The Case of Spain

Date: 26/10/2018

Publication: SAGE Journals

Throughout the world, the number of women elected to legislatures has risen dramatically. Most of the quantitative research explaining party, district, or national differences has focused on the aggregate rather than the candidate level thereby overlooking women’s access to party ballots. In examining both the election and selection stages, we focus on Spain, a closed-list proportional representation system where parties have tight control over their ballots and the election of candidates is largely a function of rank orders on the ballot. In this South European democracy women’s representation in the national parliament has experienced an incremental track, reaching 39 percent in 2016. Party differences in gender outcomes and policies promoting equal gender representation did not vanish once a legislated quota was introduced in 2007. The empirical analysis builds on an original set of candidate longitudinal data covering nine elections held between 1986 and 2016. Specifically, we test how party and candidate factors differentially affect the selection of men and women to party ballots and their likelihood of getting elected. We show that strategic discrimination against female candidates affects all parties and it happens irrespective of candidates’ political experience, which explains why male overrepresentation has been significantly reduced but not overturned.