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The impact of institutional factors on the representation of women in Parliament

A comparison between Britain and West Germany

Diplomarbeit 1990 46 Seiten

Politik - Sonstige Themen


During the 1970s female political representation in mainstream politics increased. The reason was the interaction of several factors, namely the explosion in education, the continuing urbanisation, and especially the women's movementl. More and more women became party members and stood for candidacy, however this politicization effect was not reflected in the number of woinen elected. This situation is more marked in Britain than in West Germany. Percentage figures for elected candidates and party members underline this: About 50 percent of all British party members are female (in contrast to only about 25 percent in Germany) but only 9,2 percent are represented in Parliament. (While in Germany it is 20,4 percent). More and more women in both countries stand for candidacy, but the percentage of female representatives in Britain has remained constant since 1964 (only the last election showed an increase), while in the Federal Republic (since 1972) there is a slight but steady increase. How do we explain this?
First it is important to ask whether it matters that in a democracy women or any other group are greatly underrepresented, so long as all Members of Parliament are chosen in free and fair elections.
Women constitute more than half of the population. With 20,4 percent in the West German Parliament and 9,2 in the British, this half is extremely underrepresented.(Women share this problem with blue-collar workers, with older people and young people.
Proponents of the first view argue that the deficit of women in Parliament (and in all other political officbs, especially the senior ones) contradicts the equality provision of the Basic Law/Constitution.
It is a well known fact that women in political decision making bodies are rare. Yet, this view does not give any explanations as to why the representation of women in politics should be "adequate", which would mean political positions held by women at least according to their party membership if not according to the female population rate, hence 50:50. Why should there not be, for instance, 70 percent women in Parliament or in other positions?
Another view holds that women and men have different political interests because of gender-based differentiations throughout the social structure. Female exclusion from or underrepresentation in political activities therefore means that women's interests are poorly represented. Implicit in this Position is the assumption that women […]


ISBN (eBook)
2.1 MB
Institution / Hochschule
London School of Economics – Unbekannt
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Titel: The impact of institutional factors on the representation of women in Parliament