The Rise of Gender Quota Laws: Expanding the Spectrum of Determinants for Electoral Reform


Celis, Karen, Mona Lena Krook, and Petra Meier. 2011. "The Rise of Gender Quota Laws: Expanding the Spectrum of Determinants for Electoral Reform." West European Politics 34 (3): 514-30.

Authors: Karen Celis, Mona Lena Krook, Petra Meier


The seminal work of Arend Lijphart, Electoral Systems and Party Systems (1994), limits the definition of electoral reforms to those affecting electoral formulas, district magnitudes, assembly size, or electoral thresholds. Following this definition, studies on electoral reform have put political parties and their motivations at centre stage. Expanding the definition of electoral reform, however, requires a move beyond parties to explore the multiple possible sources of change. This article examines the most common reforms of recent years, electoral gender quota policies, and points to at least four explanations for the adoption of gender quota laws. Based on extensive data from gender quota campaigns, the article suggests that the literature on this topic would benefit from efforts to broaden the analytical focus to include the role of agency, group interests, and discursive struggles, and to call attention to the possibility of causal diversity by revealing different routes to electoral reform.

Keywords: governance, elections, affirmative action, gender quotas

Topics: Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Quotas, Elections, Political Participation

Year: 2011

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