Women's Access to Political Power in Post-Communist Europe

Women's Access to Political Power in Post-Communist Europe

Women's Access to Political Power in Post-Communist Europe

Women's Access to Political Power in Post-Communist Europe

Synopsis

This volume examines women's political representation in Eastern Europe and in particular the way in which that representation has evolved in the ten years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. In addition to shedding light on the democratization of Eastern Europe, the volume aims to provide a useful test for a range of theories of representation.

Excerpt

We began our odyssey with this book nearly five years ago in Chicago at a panel on 'Electoral Rules and Female Representation in Post-Communist Europe' that Kathleen had organized for the Midwest Political Science Association's annual meeting. Richard had been working on issues of institutional design and women's representation and was eager to explore the implications of his research in a novel context. Kathleen came at the material from an interest in democratization processes and post-communism more generally. These different backgrounds proved complementary. As discussant, Richard pointed the panel toward the rich body of general theory regarding female legislative recruitment. Kathleen and the other panelists sought to test the applicability of those theories in the unique circumstances of post-communist democratization. the possibility of a book exploring these themes developed over the exchange generated by the panel. Over the ensuing years we have fleshed out the basic structure and approach in an iterative process. It has been a fully collaborative effort at every stage.

When we began, we were both struck by the dearth of writing about women's participation in Eastern European politics and by the emphasis, in the writing that did exist, on the failure of East European women to form Western-style pro-equality feminist movements. Important as we believe that was (and is), we agreed that existing studies had paid too little attention to the possibility of institutional remedies to women's under-representation. We also agreed it was time to look at the post-communist European countries as (developing) democracies, to test whether factors identified by Western scholars would explain variations in women's access to political power. Our aim was twofold: to better understand developments in the individual countries of Eastern Europe, and to test the robustness of the existing theories in a new set of countries.

One of the crucial beliefs driving our work is that institutions matter. They do not matter exclusively, but they do matter. Much of the writing on women and politics in Eastern Europe has emphasized the importance of post-communist political culture, a culture that combines a strong patriarchal tradition with the residual effects of directive emancipation. the analyses in this book suggest culture plays a role in determining the relative supply of and

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