Electoral Systems in Comparative Perspective: Their Impact on Women and Minorities

Electoral Systems in Comparative Perspective: Their Impact on Women and Minorities

Electoral Systems in Comparative Perspective: Their Impact on Women and Minorities

Electoral Systems in Comparative Perspective: Their Impact on Women and Minorities

Synopsis

This comparative study of electoral procedures, trends, and key issues is the first to deal with the representation of women and minorities around the world. Wilma Rule and Joseph Zimmerman have brought together an international team of scholars who show why there is gross underrepresentation of women and minorities internationally and who analyze the cultural, socio-economic, and political barriers to their future electoral successes. The scholars describe the current situation in 20 countries in various regions and point to ways for women and minorities to enhance positions politically. This text is intended for courses in comparative politics, political parties and elections, women in politics, and minority politics.

Excerpt

With democracy advancing throughout the world, women--a majority of the population in most countries--are asking for significant inclusion in their nations' elected governments. Ethnic groups are seeking greater representation and sometimes separate statehood. These long-term sociopolitical movements promise to change nations, politics, and policies as more women and minorities attain governmental leadership positions in the next century.

This volume addresses these significant trends. Part I examines the reality of gross underrepresentation of women and minorities worldwide and asks why such underrepresentation exists. Answers, with options for greater representation, are given. the first essay by Zimmerman outlines the undesirable consequences of unrepresentative governance, gives a succinct account of the cultural, socio- economic, and political barriers documented in Parts II-V of this volume, and presents criteria for determining the fairness of electoral systems.

Rule's chapter analyzes women's parliamentary proportions in old, new, and partial democracies and in the authoritarian countries and concludes with a hierarchy of "woman-friendly" electoral arrangements. Shugart's chapter evaluates benefits and drawbacks for minorities and women in parliamentary versus presidential governments with various election types and rules.

Parts II-V cover experience in 20 countries as recounted by 21 experts, the majority being scholar-citizens of those nations. Part ii, Europe and the United States, begins with Lakeman's essay describing perceived political party risks and outcomes in nominating women and minorities in Great Britain and Ireland. Bystydzienski and Hoecker present two success stories. the first explains why and how Norway achieved the modern world's first women's government. the second examines democratic Germany, which has afforded women more political opportunity than one finds in France, the new Russia, and the United States.

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