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The post-crisis Irish voterVoting behaviour in the Irish 2016 general election$
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Michael Marsh, David Farrell, and Theresa Reidy

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526122643

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526122643.001.0001

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The impact of gender quotas on voting behaviour in 2016

The impact of gender quotas on voting behaviour in 2016

(p.165) 9 The impact of gender quotas on voting behaviour in 2016
The post-crisis Irish voter

Gail McElroy

, Michael Marsh, David M. Farrell, Theresa Reidy
Manchester University Press

In 2016 Ireland joined over fifty countries worldwide in the adoption of candidate gender quotas, and it became the first case of a country doing so under the single transferable vote electoral system. Its impact was evident from the dramatic rise in the number of women candidates fielded in this election – 163, as compared to 86 in 2011. This chapter builds on previous research of the Irish case to assess whether the use of gender quotas had any impact on voters’ attitudes towards women candidates. The analyses of INES data in previous elections found no evidence of voter prejudice against female candidates. There could be reason to expect that might change in the light of gender quotas. The introduction of the quota in 2016 was a significant ‘shock’ to the system: parties were forced to find a large number of women candidates very quickly, so the recruitment pool was likely to have more ‘average’ women in it. Given this context, the chapter tests for true bias amongst the Irish electorate. The analysis reveals little evidence of this on the whole, apart from the slight exception of Fianna Fáil, whose supporters revealed some male bias. Apart from that partial exception, the findings generally are consistent with previous studies: what matters most is how well the candidate is known, and therefore it is incumbency that is the main factor, not the sex of the candidate.

Keywords:   Gender quotas, Gender bias in voting, Candidate incumbency, Single transferable vote (STV) electoral system

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