Why Are Gender Quota Laws Adopted by Men? The Role of Inter- and Intra-Party Competition

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In nearly every case of quota law adoption, the support of party elites is critical. But this raises a puzzle: What can motivate predominantly male elites to put these policies in place? This article uses a comparison of two sets of matched pair countries—similar on background characteristics except for quota adoption—to explore the motivations and role of male party elites in quota reform. The cases of Belgium and Austria, and Portugal and Italy highlight two key explanations. First, quota laws are likely to be supported and passed by parties threatened by a new, more progressive competitor on the left, as a way of claiming women voters back from the encroaching party (interparty competition). Second, quotas can be employed as a mechanism for party elites to gain power over candidate selection within their own parties in the face of entrenched local party monopolies (intraparty competition).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1935-1973
Number of pages39
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number14
Early online date9 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • gender
  • gender quotas
  • political parties
  • representation and electoral systems
  • sexuality and politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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