European Party Politics and Gender : Configuring Gender-Balanced Parliamentary Presence

Sammanfattning: In the late 20th century, the proportions of women and men elected into European national parliaments became increasingly equal. Political parties shape these outcomes by selecting and fielding candidates in elections. Scholars recognise that parties' actions do not occur in isolation; yet there is little systematically comparative research about the configurations of conditions in which these actions occur. Previous research also often relies on studies of West European parties. This doctoral thesis investigates how conditions inside and outside parties combine to create gender-equal parliamentary presence. The thesis examines the extent to which Western European experiences apply to Central and East European parties, and explores the conditions that stand in the way of progress towards gender balance. It presents three empirical studies. The first is a qualitative comparative analysis of 57 West European parties during the late 1980s, a period in which the trend towards equality accelerated. The second study applies the knowledge produced in the first analysis to cases in Central and Eastern Europe. It uses an original dataset covering six parties in four EU member states in a structured focused comparison. Finally, the thesis presents an in-depth case study of an unexpectedly gender-balanced Latvian party. The analyses show that gender-equal parliamentary presence is achieved when conditions inside and outside parties combine, and that no condition is necessary or singularly sufficient. The absence of gender-equal parliaments is sustained by combinations other than the absence of those that lead to gender-balance. Operationalisations from Western Europe turn out to be largely applicable to cases in Central and Eastern Europe. These latter cases also demonstrate that organisational instability need not impede women’s presence in elected office.