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The effects of the mixed-member proportional system on women representation in Germany

Christina Eder
GESIS, Leibniz
Open Panel

Abstract

Cross sectional research designs have shown that proportional representation electoral methods tend to produce more equitable outcomes in terms of gender representation (Norris, 1985; Rule 1987, Paxton 1997; Matland 1998; Kenworthy & Malami 1999, Tripp & Kang 2008). While these contributions provide valuable insights into the covariates of gender representation, we feel that such cross-sectional designs fail to provide a definitive test of the influence of electoral rules on women’s representation in legislatures in the case of mixed systems. To cover this gap, we propose a longitudinal research design using the case of Germany. Because half the Bundestag’s seats are allotted through majoritarian FPTP methods, while the other half are allotted through proportional methods, this setting allows us to control for important factors that might be influential in explaining patterns of gender representation across very different countries, e.g. attitudes about gender roles, interest groups, levels of democracy, timing of gender quotas introduction, or different types of proportional formulae. The few studies that have focused on Germany have latched on to the well documented gross difference between women elected at the first tier compared to the second tier (Lancaster and Davis 1992). Rather than absolute differences, in this paper, we are interested in mapping change in growth patterns: whether growth in women representation has been faster under majoritarian or proportional methods in Germany, but also in the interaction patterns between the two tiers, that is, whether political parties adjust their strategies across electoral methods.