Why are Women Underrepresented in Czech Politics? An Analysis of Candidate Lists and Voting Behavior in the Olomouc Region

No.4(2013)

Abstract
The article explores several reasons why women in Czech politics are underrepresented not only relative to their overall share in the society but also relative to their presence at lower levels of politics. The article tests two principal hypotheses using data from both a unique post-electoral public opinion survey carried out in the Olomouc region in 2010, and from official electoral statistics. First, it concentrates on the structural barriers of female underrepresentation presented by the candidate nomination and selection processes of the political parties. Second, it explores the possibility that more flexible candidate lists are beneficial for female representation. We compare the proportions of preference votes received by women both prior to and after electoral reforms in 2010, which for the first time gave voters the possibility to cast four preference votes and thus made the list structures more flexible. The research design includes both OLS and logistic regression models, which specify the empirical relationships derived from previous theoretical debates. The results suggest that Czech women are heavily disadvantaged by the Czech parties’ candidate selection mechanisms, and also that we do not have enough evidence to conclude that flexible lists are more conducive to higher female representation. The article concludes by considering various institutional means of reducing female political underrepresentation, including the introduction of electoral gender quotas.

Keywords:
female political representation; gender politics; Czech electoral behavior; political parties; Olomouc region
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