Gender Quotas and the Strategic Incentives of Parliamentarians under Closed List Electoral Systems

Working paper


In 2006, the Portuguese parliament established a quota for female candidates on party lists. This policy aimed at helping improve descriptive representation of women in the assembly, however it is still not clear what this measure entails. In systems like the Portuguese, parties are dominant actors but still are the Members of the Parliament (MPs) the ones that act under parties objectives. In this paper, we analyse the impact of the reform that establishes the quota on the behaviour of female MPs, for that, we analyse co-sponsorship behaviour (1983-2015). With a closed list system, co-sponsorship of bills by MPs is best seen as a provision of a public good for the party with the aim to improve the chances of renomination or advancing in the hierarchy. The introduction of the quota changed the structure of internal competition between male and female MPS. We show that Female MPs are more active before the introduction of the quota, where competition between groups is stronger. After the introduction of the quota, women still work harder, but the increased within-group competition induced male MPs to step up their game even more.


PatrĂ­cia Calca - ISCTE-IUL Lisbon