Women as European Commissioners – Can von der Leyen reach the fifty percent she promised?

In a tight race, Ursula von der Leyen was elected by the European Parliament to be president of the European Commission [EC] last week. One of many promises she made during her short campaign, was the pledge to bring in 50 percent women as commissioners. This is an ambitious endeavor given that women currently occupy about 30 percent of the offices. This figure is considerably higher than the average proportion of female ministers in the member states through the 2000s, where only 23.4 percent of all government members were women (own data, excluding Malta and Cyprus). The literature on politics and gender would lead us to expect the opposite pattern with lower proportions of women in the commission compared to national executives: For instance, theories highlighting the role of political opportunity structure point to the fact that women are less likely to reach political offices if only one position is available (Jalalzai 2008) and, since every country sends only one commissioner, women should stand low chances to be selected. Students of executive and legislative recruitment revealed that women have lower chances if aspirants can not declare their interest for offices independently since women are less likely to be part of the insider networks from which candidates are selected in such cases (Matland 2002). Since the EC nominations are made by governments behind closed doors, women face additional barriers to their consideration as nominees. Which factors enable women to overcome these obstacles to EC appointment and explain whether countries sent female commissioners?… Read More Women as European Commissioners – Can von der Leyen reach the fifty percent she promised?

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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

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?

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

When all parties nominate women: The role of political gender stereotypes in voters’ choices

By Zoe Lefkofridi, Nathalie Giger and Anne Maria Holli:
In their recent publication in Politics and Gender, the authors inquire about political gender stereotypes and their consequences. Their work builds on and extends existing knowledge of voters’ gender-based assumptions about individual candidates’ character traits and their policy expertise. … Read More When all parties nominate women: The role of political gender stereotypes in voters’ choices

Compulsory voting and ethnic diversity increase invalid voting while corruption does not: An analysis of 417 parliamentary elections in 73 countries

Voting is the most fundamental way for citizens to influence who gets to govern their country. At the same time, voting comes with certain costs for the individual, from gathering information about the different candidates all the way to the time and effort it takes to go turn up at the voting booth. Despite the meaning of voting and the costs it involves, significant numbers of people cast ‘invalid votes’. Invalid means that these votes are either blank, meaning that the person has not made their tick for any of the candidates, or they are spoilt. People spoil their votes by filling out the ballot incorrectly, by writing in candidates that do not run in their constituency or ‘none of the above’, and some spoil their ballot by drawing pictures or writing obscenities on their ballot.… Read More Compulsory voting and ethnic diversity increase invalid voting while corruption does not: An analysis of 417 parliamentary elections in 73 countries

Literature Review: Constituency service in Iceland (and other Nordic countries)

An average member of parliament in Iceland represents about 3850 citizens – making it one of the closest representative-voter ratios worldwide. How and why do representatives in this context bind with their constituency? This research question is addressed by Hlynsdóttir and Önnudóttir in their recent contribution in Representation.… Read More Literature Review: Constituency service in Iceland (and other Nordic countries)