Direct Democracy and Women's Political Engagement

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17 Citations (Scopus)


What are the conditions that promote gender equality in political participation? In this article, I propose that the presence of direct democracy expands gender equality in political participation by signaling the system's openness to women's voice, confirming their political competency, and highlighting their stake in political decisions. To test this argument, I leverage a quasi-experiment in Sweden in the aftermath of the introduction of universal suffrage, where the type of municipal political institutions was determined by a population threshold. My findings lend strong support to the effect of direct democracy on the political inclusion of women. I find that the gender gap in electoral participation was smaller in municipalities using direct democracy than in similarly sized municipalities that only had representative institutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)594-610
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jul

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
©2019, Midwest Political Science Association

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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