Political Representation of Women in Europe. What Accounts for the Increase in the 2000s?

  • Gesine Fuchs
  • Christine Scheidegger


In the last 15 years, political representation of women both in parliaments and in governments in Europe has increased. Interestingly, increases occurred in countries with legislated gender quotas, but also in states where softer voluntary party quotas exist as well as with parties that do not have any formal quota. How can we account for this improvement? Feminist political research has argued that a comprehensive model of explanation is needed that takes into account social structures as well as norms and institutions. However, the causal relations and differentiated influences are far from clear. This paper takes this “magic triangle” as a starting point and uses comparative data for all three kinds of factors to search for causal relationships with the development of female representation in national parliaments. We apply regression analysis, explorative clustering and fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fzQCA). Consistent results obtained from all methods applied include the complementarity of legislated gender quotas, on the one hand, and voluntary quotas with good electoral proportionality, on the other hand. Socio-economic data had no reasonable impact on women’s representation in Europe. Political culture, like the tradition of universal female suffrage, proved to be sometimes relevant. However, we need better qualitative and quantitative data for political culture for further investigations.


Political representation Descriptive representation Gender equality Europe Triangulation of methods 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social Work, Institute of Social Management, Social Policy and PreventionLucerne University of Applied Sciences and ArtsLucerneSwitzerland
  2. 2.UrbanfishBernSwitzerland

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