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Collaboration of Women in European Parliaments

Comparative Politics
European Politics
Gender
Parliaments
Quantitative
Agenda-Setting
Empirical
Jens Wäckerle
University of Cologne
Jens Wäckerle
University of Cologne

Abstract

Researchers of political representation need to explicitly establish the link between descriptive and substantive representation rather than assume that the mere increase in women in politics leads to substantial changes in political outcomes. As Hannah Pitkin laid out, “the representative’s characteristics are relevant only insofar as they affect what he does” (Pitkin, 1967, pp.142). Collaboration of women in parliaments is one way through which descriptive representation of women translates into substantive representation. Collaboration through co-sponsoring legislation is used to complement the analysis of legislative activity by voting records and speeches. I expand the analysis that has been conducted in the United States (e.g. Bratton and Rouse, 2011) and Argentina (Barnes, 2016) to European countries and describe the way in which the gender of legislators influences their cosponsorship behaviour. I use a unique dataset of cosponsorship data scraped from the archives of several European parliaments including Italy, Sweden, Hungary, Belgium and the Czech Republic, taking advantage of the broad range of electoral systems, quota regimes and levels of women’s representation present in these countries. The results show that women are more likely to collaborate with other women in situations when they are marginalised in the legislature, while men begin to collaborate with women at higher levels once women achieve a substantial share of the seats in parliament. Most importantly, the electoral system has a different effect on collaboration for male and female politicians: While men are more likely to collaborate with women in systems featuring single member districts, women are more likely to collaborate with each other in mixed systems. These results show how the institutional setting of a parliament influences the strategies female politicians can use to represent female voters.