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Political Biographies and Electoral Outcomes across Post-Communist Europe: Special Section in Problems of Postcommunism

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Project log

Joshua Dubrow
added 2 research items
Throughout post-communist Europe there are debates on the issue of gender equality in legislative institutions (Reuschemeyer and Wolchik 2009a). Parliamentarians are critical actors in these debates, as they have the authority to introduce and implement gender equality enhancing legislation. Whether parliamentarians want to enhance gender equality in parliament, and how they would like to achieve this goal, directly impacts any legislation related, explicitly or implicitly, to women’s political representation (for a detailed discussion of the role of party leaders in gender equality initiatives, see Kunovich and Paxton 2005 and Caul-Kittilson 2006). A popular yet contentious way of enhancing gender equality in parliament is through gender quotas. Party gender quotas are rules voluntarily adopted within political party structures that aim at securing a set percentage of women to appear on candidate lists in elections for political offices. Party gender quotas can be an effective way to place women in parliament, though how well quotas function depends much on the form of electoral rules, the type of quota system adopted, and the level of enforcement of such a system (Dahlerup 2006; Matland and Montgomery 2003). Polish parliamentarians operate in both national and European contexts that shape their attitudes toward gender equality and gender quotas. On the national side is a familiarity with gender equality initiatives, including legacies of the communist regime, entrenched gender traditionalism, and an active women’s lobby composed of female Polish parliamentarians. On the European side are European Union–mandated gender mainstreaming policies and European women’s interest groups, social movements, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) (Bretherton 2001; Chiva 2009; Irvine 2007; Reuschemeyer and Wolchik 2009a). In addition to these pressures, empirical research has shown that a parliamentarian’s gender and political ideology are important factors, where women and leftists are more likely to be pro-gender equality and pro-gender quota (Dubrow forthcoming; Kunovich and Paxton 2005; Wangnerud 2009). However, to date no one has empirically examined how gender and political ideology compare to national and European pressures. In this chapter we examine how Europeanist orientation and contact with European organizations shapes pro-gender equality and pro-gender quota attitudes of Polish parliamentarians in the Sejm. We use IntUne data to empirically address three questions: (1) How strong is the relationship between gender equality and gender quota attitudes? (2) Do Europeanist orientation and contact with European Union (EU) institutions and European interest groups influence pro-gender equality and pro-party gender quota attitudes? and (3) Are these factors as important as gender and political ideology?
Peter Jan Tunkis
added 3 research items
Candidates’ political qualities and personal characteristics reflect what priorities political parties have when they nominate for viable seats. The limited research on the link between candidate characteristics and ranking on closed lists is an important hiatus in understanding legislative recruitment since in closed list PR nomination to top positions on viable lists virtually guarantees election. We address the issue by analyzing longitudinally the determinants of candidate list placement in Romania, an intriguing case given its low proportion of reelected incumbents and women MPs. Our findings indicate that while male candidates are placed higher up on the lists than women, the positive effect of incumbency is larger for female than male incumbents.
Despite strong political party unity found in new democracies, many of the party systems in post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe are ‘quasi-institutionalized’ at best. If political parties are comparatively weak, what labels or identities bind legislators together, and to what extent do these strengthen or undermine party loyalty? Using semi-structured interviews with Polish politicians, the East European Parliamentarian and Candidate Data (EAST PaC), the novel Members of Parliament Affiliations Data (MPAD) for Poland, and roll-call votes (1997–2007), I show that loyalty among MPs sharing nonpartisan group identities or characteristics is important to the foundation of party labels, and has a significant impact on party loyalty.