Gender Quotas as (Non-)Binding Constraints: the Case of Semi-Open List Formation in Flemish Municipalities
By Bruno Heyndels and Colin R. Kuehnhanss
• Women’s representation is a major concern in today’s politics.
• Gender quotas in elections are meant to ensure women’s presence on ballots.
• In the 2012 Flemish elections, women candidates were on average positioned higher on party ballots than they would be if positioning were based on anticipated electoral success.
• Left-wing parties advantage women in positions with high chances of election. Right-wing parties advance women only in positions with low chances of success.
• For positions with critical election odds, rankings across all parties are based on expected electoral success in terms of preferential votes, irrespective of candidate gender.
• Assigned ballot positions may reflect underlying gender preferences or power balance within the party leadership. Gender biases may be neutralized more effectively by placement mandates than by general quota rules.