Academic journal article Ahfad Journal

Women in Political Parties' Structures: The Quota Types Discourse

Academic journal article Ahfad Journal

Women in Political Parties' Structures: The Quota Types Discourse

Article excerpt

Part one: The political parties' quota discourse

Political parties are groups of persons, who seek to control government through the winning of elections and the holding of public offices (Neuman 1956). Political parties are essential for democratic governance.

Major functions of political parties include the nomination of candidates for public offices. That is political parties select candidates and then presents them to the voters and work to help their candidates win elections (Ware 1996).

Within the women quotas discourse, political parties are seen as the political incubators which prepare women for the challenging work as parliamentarians and other decision-makers in society. Thus, political parties ought to begin opening up spaces for women within various intraparty structures. That is, the Quota System must be implemented in the political parties themselves if there is to be a contagion effect vis a vis the general institutional structure in society (Matland and Montgomery 2003).

Women generally encounter many obstacles within political parties. Notwithstanding the underpinning party political ideology, women invariably bump into resistance from various levels of interests within their respective political party. There are also issues of preferential treatment within respective political parties. Women from poorer socioeconomic background do not always get equal chances as those accorded to their more affluent and better socially connected fellow women within the same political parties. There is also the problem that these poorer women might not get accepted into the political parties' structures in the first place. Women therefore, face a conundrum of obstacles along the Quota System route, within and without political parties' structures (Inglehart and Norris 2003). In governance through political parties no one side will always win and some people will disagree with the majority.

However, if everyone has had a say and the rights of the minority are respected, then most people are willing to accept the decisions made using peaceful means to express any differences that may remain (McDonnel and Newell 2011).

Many political parties, especially client lists political parties which use patronage as modus operands within party structures do not provide women with the same support given their male colleagues (Badri 2010).

Women members are considered as political burdens. Political parties which are premised on programs see women as representing vital interests groups within the remit of the women voting force in the general electorate and other issues of general societal development (Inglehart and Norris 2003). Political parties as stated by Duverger 1954 can be seen to serve two major purposes:

1. Interest articulation, and

2. Interest aggregation.

Interest articulation means that political parties define and express a group's needs and wants the public and political system can understand. Interest aggregation means the process by which political parties bring together various viewpoints on issues. Thus, political parties develop enough common ideas among enough people so that pressure can be brought to bear upon the political system (Smith 2007). The type of electoral system is a major factor in determining the type of party political system. In countries with a simple plurality voting system political parties elected tend to be few (often only two in any given jurisdiction). In countries that have a proportional representation voting system as exists throughout Europe, or to a greater extent ranked voting systems such as in Australia or Ireland three or more parties are often elected to parliament in significant proportions and thus may have more access to public office (Mohanty 1991).

In single-party (1) systems, one political party is legally allowed to hold effective power. Although minor parties may sometimes be allowed, they are legally required to accept the leadership of the dominant party (Gunthere and Larry 2003). …

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