Politics of Gender

Politics of Gender

A Regional Analysis of Incumbent Parties and Female Presidential Candidates

Catherine Reyes-Housholder Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Abstract
How and when do women win presidential elections? This book develops a theory centered on incumbent parties as a pathway for women to achieve this. Women have won the presidency in Latin American nine times, and in seven of these instances, women were backed by an incumbent party or running for re-election themselves. This chapter probes the incumbent pathway theory by analyzing two stages of the presidential selection process: (1) the party nomination stage; and (2) the general election. I argue that vote-seeking parties are more likely to nominate women for the president when their weaknesses align with women's stereotypical strengths. Incumbent parties are more likely to perceive a need to project novelty and moral integrity; incumbent parties thus are more likely to nominate women for president than challenger parties. Incumbent parties can then provide women with substantial resources to launch viable and sometimes victorious campaigns.
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