Women as Candidates: An Experimental Study in Turkey
Politics & Gender, Vol. 7, pp. 365-390, September 2011.
35 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2011 Last revised: 26 Dec 2011
Date Written: April 10, 2011
Patriarchal practices and understandings, especially based on religious teachings, are seen as serious hindrances to women’s access to political power. This obstacle often is seen as greatest in countries where Islam is the dominant religion. This study offers preliminary insights regarding how the gender of political candidates affects voting perceptions and behavior in Turkey, one of the few democratic countries with a Muslim majority population. We designed an experiment where university students read speeches by candidates from the two major parties (AKP and CHP). We randomly varied the sex of the candidates. Respondents report their perceptions of candidate’s characteristics and policy competencies and their willingness to vote for a candidate. We find candidate sex influences evaluations of areas of competence and perceptions of individual characteristics. It has almost no impact, however, on voting decisions. When it comes to voting, party support and policy stands are vastly more important than candidate sex, even for religiously observant voters.
Keywords: women, elections, experiments, Islam, Turkey
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