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Female Electability in the Arab World: The Advantages of Intersectionality

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Many studies of women’s electability in the developing world focus on single traits such as gender, ethnicity, or religion. Employing an original survey experiment in Jordan, we examine the impacts of multiple, intersecting candidate identities on voter preferences. We show empirically that existing theories of electoral behavior alone cannot account for women’s electability. An intersectional lens that considers how power structures shape electability and produce complex effects that must be empirically verified in different contexts is needed. Although less electable overall, female candidates fare as well as males from similar social identity groups. Our findings underscore the need to apply intersectionality to theories of electoral behavior in the developing world and lay the groundwork for a larger research agenda explaining women’s electability in Arab elections.

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Keywords: Jordan; Middle East and North Africa; electoral politics; gender and politics; religion and politics; survey experiment; tribal politics

Appeared or available online: August 10, 2020

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