Legislating for political gender quotas in Ireland

Fiona May Buckley, Yvonne Galligan, Claire McGing

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

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% gender quota for party candidates at the next general election, rising to 40% seven years thereafter. Non-compliant parties will lose half of their annual state funding. Informed by insights from feminist institutionalism, this paper will consider the question: why did Irish political parties, who have always been so reluctant to tackle the question of women’s under-representation, suddenly do a volte-face and introduce such a radical measure as legislative gender quotas? In answering this question, we argue that the political reform discourse that emerged following the recent Irish economic crisis was a significant factor in the adoption of legislative gender quotas in the Republic of Ireland. It signified, and made visible, the divergence between politicians and the public on the issue in a context where political representatives were under question, and political institutions being criticised, for ineffective political management. We contend that Ireland is an example of how apparently enduring and immutable gender norms can be overcome. We suggest that feminist institutionalism enables an unpacking of the messy complexities of institutional resistance to change and reveals the power of informal institutions to shape outcomes leading to a major formal rule change.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 05 Sep 2015
EventAmerican Political Science Association, Annual Meeting 2015 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 03 Sep 201506 Sep 2015

Conference

ConferenceAmerican Political Science Association, Annual Meeting 2015
CountryUnited States
CitySan Francisco
Period03/09/201506/09/2015

Keywords

  • gender quotas
  • candidate selection
  • feminist institutionalism
  • political representation

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