How Italian electors react to gender quotas? A random utility model of voting behaviour
The share of elected positions held by women in democratic countries is still very small. To increase this share many countries have introduced gender quotas in their electoral rules. In Italy gender quotas, requiring a minimum number of women in electoral lists, have been introduced for elections at different levels of government. This type of quotas does not ensure in an open list electoral system that women will get more votes. This effect will depend on the extent to which there is an anti-female bias among voters. To test the presence of an anti-female bias in voting behaviour we set up a random utility model for voting behaviour. The model is then tested on the elections for regional councils in 1995 and 2000. The results show that a higher share of women in party lists leads to a significant increase in the probability that voters will choose a female candidate. This implies that voters are willing to vote more for women (there is not a perfect gender bias against women). Other important factors influencing voters’ behaviour ar e the length of the party list (the longer the party list, and thus the greater the size of electoral districts, the lower the probability of voting for an incumbent candidate) and the position of the party in terms of liberal values. The more the party is liberal in terms of these values, the higher the probability that a woman will be voted.
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