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How candidate selection structures and genders political ambition: illustrations from Uruguay

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Men’s over-representation persists in almost all legislatures. This article engages with this problem by bringing together literature on the gendered nature of political parties and literature on the gender gap in political ambition to argue that candidate selection procedures structure the meaning and importance of political ambition. Exploiting the large variation in formal and informal institutions guiding candidate selection in Uruguay, I theorise and empirically explore how two of the most common ways to select legislative candidates worldwide – (1) primaries and (2) exclusive leadership selection – shape the meaning and importance of political ambition in diverging ways, with gendered effects.

key messages

  1. Candidate selection procedures structure and gender the meaning of political ambition in different ways.
  2. To analyse how candidate selection structures ambition, we must consider both men’s and women’s understandings.

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Keywords: Uruguay; candidate selection; feminist institutionalism; gender; political ambition; political parties

Affiliations: Uppsala University, Sweden

Appeared or available online: November 18, 2019

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