Introduction xxi equality. Parties on the right elect fewer women to parliament than parties on the left. This party gender gap is particularly pronounced in the United States, where the Democratic Caucus has more than double the number of women than the Republican Caucus in Congress (see chapter 1 for an in- depth discussion). Why is this the case? First, parties on the right embrace traditional gender roles that see women’s rightful place in the home as a wife and mother and are less likely to consider women fit to be political leaders. And vice versa, conservative women might be reluctant to run for office, as conservative family values dictate the priority of the home and the family for women. Second, parties on the right object to the use of affirmative action such as electoral gender quotas, which have proven one of the fastest and most efficient ways to increase the number of women in politics. In contrast, parties on the left, particularly green parties, were first to introduce electoral gender quotas aiming for a gender-balanced caucus where women make up at least 50 percent of the parties’ representatives in parliament. Additionally, parties on the left historically have close ties with the women’s movement and have a long history of advocating for equality and inclusion of marginalized groups such as women and minorities. Electoral gender quotas are the most effective institutional tool to improve women’s descriptive representation leading to an enduring and often accelerated increase in the number of women elected. Countries with quotas have on average 7 percent more women in parliament than coun- tries without quotas (IPU 2019). The most common argument against quo- tas is that they force parties to nominate unqualified women to meet the quotas. However, plenty of studies have shown that women elected via quotas are equally and often more qualified than their male counterparts and women not elected via quotas (Franceschet, Krook, and Piscopo 2012). Quotas can be applied to different stages in the electoral process. Most quotas focus on the nomination stage and mandate that a certain number of candidates must be women. Voluntary political party quotas are adopted by individual political parties that promise to appoint a certain percentage of women to their candidate lists. In proportional electoral systems, voters do not vote for a candidate but for a party. Each party nominates a slate of candidates. Voters then vote for the party list rather than individual candi- dates. If a party wins 30 percent of a total of one hundred parliamentary seats (so thirty seats total), the top thirty candidates on the party list are elected to parliament. For example, the German Green Party has a 50 per- cent candidate quota for its party lists, which means that half of the candi- dates on its party list must be women.
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