Gushchina, K. and Kaiser, A. (2020), Multilevel governance and women's legislative representation. European Journal of Political Research. Accepted Author Manuscript. https://doi.org/10.1111/1475-6765.12431. Published online by the European Journal of Political Research: 11 December 2020
Research shows that electoral systems, gender quotas, and a country’s socio-economic development affect women’s legislative representation (WLR). Less attention is paid to the effects of the rise of regional political arenas and multilevel politics on WLR. Due to less costly and competitive electoral campaigns, women can have easier access to regional legislatures. We argue that this relationship is mitigated by the distribution of competences between the different levels of the political system and that decentralization’s effect on WLR at the regional level is dependent on the regions’ political power. To test this, we use an original dataset on WLR in 383 regional parliaments in 19 European countries from 1970 to 2018. Results of the three-level models show that more political authority vested into regions leads to a lower level of WLR in the legislatures of the more politically powerful regions in comparison with not only the regions possessing less authority but also with the national parliament. Possible explanations for this effect, such as the attractiveness of these positions to the mostly male political elite and, consequently, increased costs and competitiveness of electoral campaigns, are suggested.