Incumbents' Interests and Gender Quotas
39 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2008
Date Written: September 17, 2007
The adoption of mandatory gender quotas in party lists has been a subject of discussion in many countries. Since any reform obviously requires the approval of a (sometimes qualified) majority of incumbent legislators' votes, keeping an eye on incumbents' interests and incentives in different systems seems a natural thing to do if we want to understand different prospects for reforms in different countries. Such differences in the cost-benefit analysis of incumbents may well depend on the electoral system. We argue that if male candidates have a higher probability of being elected when running against a female candidate than when running against a male of similar characteristics (male advantage), then single member district majority rule and closed list proportional representation are opposite extremes in terms of incentives for incumbents to pass parity laws. We validate the above argument using a formal model of constitutional design as well as an empirical analysis of the legislative elections in France, since France offers a natural experiment for both electoral systems. Given the male advantage, increasing the number of female new candidates made the incumbents' probability of reelection higher and thus male incumbent members of the Assembly have actually benefited from the parity law. We also show that parity may have Assembly composition effects and policy effects that vary with the electoral system.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation