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15th ECPR General Conference, University of Innsbruck

‘Someday Girls, Someday’: Legislating for Candidate Gender Quotas in the Republic of Ireland

Fiona Buckley
University College Cork
Fiona Buckley
University College Cork
Yvonne Galligan
Queen's University Belfast

In July 2012, legislation on political party funding and candidate gender quotas was enacted by the Irish Parliament. The Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012 provides for a 30 per cent gender quota for party candidates at the next general election, rising to 40 per cent seven years thereafter. Non-compliant parties will lose half of their annual state funding. This day has been a long time coming but its necessity is borne out in the descriptive facts of women’s political representation in Ireland. Of the total 4744 Dáil seats filled since the first election to Dáil Éireann (lower house) in December 1918, only 260 have been occupied by women. Currently, women hold just 25 of the 166 seats (15.1 per cent) in parliament, a new all-time high. This paper examines the process of quota adoption in the Republic of Ireland. It begins by providing an overview of women’s political representation in Ireland and assesses the impact of Irish political culture on its stagnant progression. It then utilises Krook’s framework for the adoption of gender quotas worldwide to analyse internal party factors as well as external party influences to determine how actor support for the adoption of legislative gender quotas was secured in the Republic of Ireland. The paper concludes that external party events such as the political reform discourse stemming from the recent Irish economic crisis and the mobilisation of civic society groups agitating for improved gender balance in politics, along with support from male elites, have been critical to the adoption of legislative gender quotas.
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