Werner Krause, Denis Cohen
Electoral reactions to female lead candidates

Dreiländertagung DVPW-ÖGPW-SVPW 2023, Linz, September 11th to September 13th, 2023

While most established democracies still fall short of gender parity, women have become increasingly visible and influential in party politics over the past 50 years. This paper studies electoral reactions to the selection of women as party leaders and lead candidates. National election campaigns fronted by women, we argue, boosts parties' ability to mobilize via descriptive representation and via signals of social inclusion. Consequently, favorable electoral reactions are most likely among left-leaning, pro-egalitarian female voters. We test this argument and its downstream consequences for party competition in cross-national comparative analyses and a series of quasi-experimental case studies using weekly cross-sectional pre-election surveys. Our findings have notable implications at the intersection of party politics, party competition, and representation.