It’s easy being Green: Ecofeminism, women politicians, and Green party electoral success

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Why do Green Parties in Western democracies have a higher percentage of women candidates than other, major parties? Why are these women elected in nearly equally high percentages? This exploratory, mixed-methods case study of Green parties in Canada and Australia aims to generate possible explanations for these questions. Traditional political representation literature tends to focus on critical mass, ideological, or structural explanations to explain women’s political success. These explanations fail to account for the cross-state phenomenon of Green women’s political success which appears to hold constant despite differing electoral systems, party ideologies and histories, and existing gender compositions of elected political bodies. By collecting extensive election data in all Western democracies where Green parties have won seats, I present empirical findings illustrating how women’s representation in Green parties outpaces other parties in nearly every case examined. Explanations for this phenomenon are generated using data from interviews with Green Party politicians in both cases, seeking to uncover a possible connection between environmental concerns and perceived gender differences between men and women. I suggest that it is an emphasis on completing a specific environmental policy goal rather than “politics as usual” which is responsible for attracting high levels of women candidates to Green parties. This is complemented by a strong history of ecofeminist principles within parties such as an emphasis on women’s lived experiences. These findings contribute to the political representation literature by illustrating a specific case where the 50% threshold for women has often been surpassed. Political parties interested in bolstering their own representativeness may look to findings on Green parties for inspiration.
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