German female and male ministers – many similarities and little differences

Most executives around the world are largely male-dominated, even though the proportion of women ministers is at an all-time high at the moment with 20.7 per cent (812 out of 3922), (IPU 2019). Some scholars argue that the low numbers follow from the fact that women need to overcome higher barriers than men to get to the top (e.g. Murray 2014, Verge and Astudillo 2019). They need to make-up for intangible masculine assets that they naturally do not possess but that are highly valued by institutional and political gatekeepers who select ministers. Based on this idea, women might have to be exceptional to overcome social, structural, and political obstacles to office. To understand this rationale in more detail, in this blogpost, I zoom into the German case to answer the question whether female ministers are better equipped for a position in government than their male colleagues?… Read More German female and male ministers – many similarities and little differences

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Can women save the environment? How female Members of the European Parliament make a difference on environmental legislation

“Our house is on fire. I am here to say, our house is on fire.” Greta Thunberg (2019) puts it blatantly clear: our style of living is threatening our very existence; we are destroying the ground we live on – and if we do not radically change our conveniently arranged lives now, we won’t have the chance to turn the tide anymore. Living in a representative democracy, it is, however, not only us, the citizens, who have to act. Far-reaching decisions about environmental politics are taken by parliamentarians. Hence, we would probably want to know what delegates think about environmental issues and whether they act in accordance with these preferences.… Read More Can women save the environment? How female Members of the European Parliament make a difference on environmental legislation

Literature Review: Direct Democracy and Women’s Political Particiption

In a recently published article in the American Journal of Political Science, Jeong Hyun Kim shows us how direct democracy can enhance women’s political participation. She argues that direct decisions on policy initiatives increase, firstly, women’s perceived efficacy and, secondly, their political knowledge. Given that women were traditionally excluded from politics, direct democracy signals to women that all citizens, their opinions and preferences are valued during political debates, making it more likely that they also feel like their vote matters.… Read More Literature Review: Direct Democracy and Women’s Political Particiption

Why do people (not) turn out to vote in local elections?

Local elections differ in very profound ways from national elections: The electorate is rather small and homogenous and the elected body is considered to be closer to the people. To some extent, these differences should translate into variations in participation with voters being easily able to make informed choices at the local level. Research analyzing participation in the local or national elections or the gaps between these two stress the importance of individual-level factors, or macro-level socio-economic, political and institutional variables (for an overview see Geys 2006 and Stockemer 2017). The peculiarities of municipal elections, makes them a very interesting setting to investigate variations in turnout across and within countries as well as over time. Hence, in this blog post, I ask the question whether the aggregate-level factors described by previous studies can also explain differences in the share of constituents turning out to four local elections in the Austrian State of Salzburg between 2004 and 2019.… Read More Why do people (not) turn out to vote in local elections?

Literature Review: Everything to everyone?

In their recent work, Lehrer and Lin shed some light on the black box of party behavior. The authors ask under what conditions the broad-appeal strategy works. This phenomenon describes voters’ tendency to vote for ambiguous parties. Sending equivocal policy signals to voters, a party becomes attractive to more voters with diverse policy interests. If a party has ambiguous party platform, voters tend to underestimate the policy distance between their own position and the position of the party. Therefore, the broad-appeal strategy is a winning strategy to broaden up electoral support.… Read More Literature Review: Everything to everyone?

Which conservatives voted against May’s Brexit deal?

This week’s “meaningful vote” in the House of Commons marks one of the most remarkable losses a British prime minister ever had to experience. 68.1% of all representatives voted against the deal negotiated by May’s government with the European Union. Even within her Conservative party, the prime minister experienced considerable opposition with 37.6% of the MPs voting against the EU (withdrawal) Act. In this brief blog contribution, I aim to identify which conservative MPs were most likely to vote against their own government’s Brexit proposal. Were representatives with certain social characteristics and contextual settings in their districts more likely to vote ‘no’?… Read More Which conservatives voted against May’s Brexit deal?

Literature Review: The effect of geographical distance on representation

Not all representatives work under the same conditions. The geographical distance of MPs’ districts to the capital is a key factor creating systematic inequality and often overlooked in studies of representation. In his recent paper in West European Politics, David M. Willumsen gets involved with the different legislative behavior of MPs as a consequence of the time it takes them to travel between the two work places in their constituency and in parliament. … Read More Literature Review: The effect of geographical distance on representation