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    Do women vote for women candidates? Attitudes towards descriptive representation and voting behaviour in the 2010 British election

    Campbell, Rosie and Heath, O. (2017) Do women vote for women candidates? Attitudes towards descriptive representation and voting behaviour in the 2010 British election. Politics and Gender 13 (2), pp. 209-231. ISSN 1743-923X.

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    Abstract

    Abstract: Research on the effect of candidate sex on voting behaviour has found mixed results. In some countries, in some elections, candidate sex has been found to influence voting behaviour but the mechanisms underpinning this relationship are not fully understood. We argue that in the British context the issue of candidate sex has become politicised by party strategies relating to the selection of women candidates. Controversy over mechanisms to improve women's representation raises the salience of candidate sex in the public mind and divides opinion on whether women better represent women's interests. Accordingly, British Conservative party leader David Cameron's attempts to improve the representation of women in the Parliamentary Conservative party in 2010 made the issue of candidate sex particularly electorally salient and also made it the first election where both main parties fielded substantial numbers of women candidates in winnable seats. Given this increase in the supply and salience of women candidates, 2010 provides a unique opportunity in the British case to model the effect of candidate sex on vote choice. We show that attitudes towards the descriptive representation of women had a significant impact on whether women supported women candidates in 2010.

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