Incumbents’ Interests, Voters’ Bias and Gender Quotas
The adoption of gender quotas in party lists has been a voluntary decision by many parties in many countries, and is now a subject of discussion in many others. The Parity Law passed in France in 2001 is particularly interesting because for the first time the quota was set at 50 percent, and the deputies passing the reform are elected in single member districts. In this paper we rationalize parity on thd basis of the self interest of male incumbent deputies. The existence of a voters’ bias in favor of male candidates is sufficient to convince the incumbents to advocate for equal gender representation in party lists, because it raises the incumbents’ chance of being re-elected. We confirm empirically the existence of male bias in the French electorate and we show that parity law may have Assembly composition effects and policy effects that vary with the electoral system.
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