malahtun - Articles Is Gender like Ethnicity? The Political...

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Is Gender like Ethnicity? The Political Representation of Identity Groups Mala Htun Some 50 countries officially allocate access to political power by gender, ethnicity, or both. Yet in the world’s electoral democracies, the policies used for women differ systematically from those used for ethnic groups.The former receive candidate quotas in parties; the latter, reserved seats in legislatures. Why? My explanation focuses on the varying ways that gender and ethnic identities intersect with partisan cleavages and on the distinct “work” performed by the different remedies for underrepresentation. Quotas, which make space within existing parties, are appropriate for groups whose boundaries crosscut partisan divisions. Reservations, which create incentives for the formation of group-specific parties and permit them direct representation, suit groups whose boundaries coincide with political cleavages. Since gender is crosscutting while ethnicity tends to be coinciding, women receive candidate quo- tas while ethnic groups get legislative reservations. Claims for inclusion via quotas pose less of a challenge to liberal institutions than claims to difference through legislative reservations. Case studies of representational politics in France, India, and Peru illustrate the argument. P olitical leaders take our money, lead us to war, and write the laws that govern our lives. Must their ranks include men and women, rich and poor, masters and slaves? For most of world history, the answer was no. Men ruled; women worked at home. Female interests were represented by hus- bands and fathers. The same was true for members of subordi- nate ethnic groups: conquerors would care for colonial subjects, the rich for the poor, whites for browns, and so on. As the twentieth century progressed, however, a consensus emerged in international society and within democratic poli- ties that one social segment should not monopolize political power. Special efforts were made to include previously excluded groups—generally defined in terms of gender and ethnicity. Today, some 50 countries officially allocate access to political power along the lines of gender, ethnicity, 1 or both: they have laws on the books reserving a fixed number of electoral candida- cies or legislative seats. Narrowing the focus to electoral democ- racies reveals a fascinating pattern: institutional remedies for the underrepresentation of women and ethnic minorities (or majorities) assume distinct forms. Women tend to receive can- didate quotas in political parties, whereas ethnic groups are granted reserved seats in legislatures. How does gender differ from ethnicity? Why do democra- cies apply distinct policies to different previously excluded groups? What does this imply about the normative status of various claims to representation and the appropriate response of liberal states? This article argues that different remedies for underrepre-
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malahtun - Articles Is Gender like Ethnicity? The Political...

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