Last updated: August 17, 2019
Topic: LawPolitics
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The article Votes for Women: Electoral Systems and Support for Female Candidates emphasizes how electoral rules can influence or enable changes in voting behavior and tendency to vote for a female candidate. The article breaks down the advantages and disadvantages of open list and closed list systems and how these affect voter outcomes. How and if there is an affect that gender has on voter outcomes and inclinations to women’s representation on an electoral level is discussed as well.

This research found that there was no disadvantage to having female candidates on party lists and lists with more female representation did not negatively impact election outcomes for those parties. No indication of bias against women was recovered from the data but evidence of underrepresentation was stated. It is revealed that women were more likely to vote for candidates the same gender as them and men did not share this quality. Women were more likely to vote for women and no gender bias was revealed against women, but the amount of women casting votes for female candidates was still shown to be disproportionate. This experiment challenges the current state of electoral systems and how gender plays a role and can be understood.

This article revealing how open systems allow for more freedom and choice within candidate lists for parties can be utilized to persuade more countries towards an open system. The website used for the experiment was translated in over 10 languages and available to many countries which is why it is a significant research experiment that is not specific to one nations system.

The research was conducted via an experiment called the Eurovoteplus project from May 2014. This experiment was a website that allowed voters to be exposed to three different electoral systems in a series of hypothetical elections while using contemporary candidates. By exposing voters to open and closed list system the voters were able to visualize how much control and voice they have with party lists between closed and open systems. The researchers were able to use this information to elaborate on how open systems are better for female candidates. The voters were given surveys requiring them to indicate how they felt about their ideologies towards gender and politics.

The results of this experiment showed that less women were candidates on the party lists when it came to the ends of the spectrum leftist and far right parties than on the candidate lists of more moderate parties. Voters were less likely to vote for female representatives if the voters belonged to far right or far left parties. Moderate parties, representation, and voter ideology are the right climate to get female candidates elected based on the findings of the research. Open party systems allow for more votes for women according to the research so more open party systems can increase women’s representation. When comparing the results of votes for each gender, women had an increase of votes in the open system where as votes for men stayed relatively the same in the open system. The panachage system which allows for voters to cast several votes for individual candidates proved to increase votes for female candidates the most out of the systems tested.

            The interesting parts of this article were that the results were not what I expected. Due to lack of subsequent female leadership and political roles comparatively to men, I didn’t expect to find that there was no indication of bias towards women in the political sphere found in this study. Women having a better chance of becoming elected by moderate voters and on the list of a moderate party was a different outcome than I initially expected because I imagined that left wing voters would be more inclined to elect a female.  

If more countries reformed their electoral system to be an open system to create worldwide electoral unity, representation for women has the opportunity to improve and take a step towards more equal representation. The open systems allow for voters to have more freedom to express which candidates they would like to vote for and more women are elected due to this openness. This research concluded that the population of the public who participated in this study did not show any indications of bias towards women or female candidates. Despite these hopeful conclusions, women are still underrepresented currently in the world of political turf that has previously been dominated by men.