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Political Research Exchange - PRX

Women in Elections of Mayors in the Czech Republic and Slovakia: Determinants of Successful Stories

Local Government
Political Participation
Comparative Perspective
Decision Making
Daniel Klimovsky
Department of Political Science, Comenius University Faculty of Arts
Pavel Maškarinec
Jan Evangelista Purkyně University
Daniel Klimovsky
Department of Political Science, Comenius University Faculty of Arts

Main objective of this article is to analyze chosen political determinants of women’s descriptive representation at the local level in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in the recent decade. In spite of the fact that these countries use different electoral systems in the local elections, from perspective of political culture they are very close to each other thanks to long-lasting common history. In addition, in both countries one can find extremely fragmented municipal structure with clear majority of very small municipalities. We focus on political opportunity structure (i.e. a structure of relationships that affects social and political behavior) and question whether this structure affects also women’s political representation. Influence of five types of political opportunity structure is examined and we show that women are significantly advantaged in municipalities where women held mayoral post in a previous electoral term. In contrast to other studies, we discover only limited influence of previous women’s representation in city councils. A strong negative influence of direct election of mayors and negative influence of municipal size (only in Slovakia) indicate that women’s representation as mayors may be the result of interdependent phenomena which combines institutional structure (e.g. electoral procedure, powers of mayors) with political contextual factors (experience with female mayors – not necessarily incumbents – in the past). This finding challenges earlier studies and it shows that any effort to find out a clear list of determinants of women’s representation as mayors is a relatively complex task. In addition, it seems that interconnected factors often act in both positive and negative directions, making it difficult to pursue a broader comparative study in a different institutional environment as well as in different political culture settings.
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