Res Publica - Journal of Undergraduate Research


A number of political, socioeconomic, and cultural factors have been identified as having an effect on the level of parliamentary representation of women. Studies concentrating on the most prosperous longstanding democracies accentuate the importance of political factors, whereas most of the studies that include less developed nations suggest a more pronounced role for socioeconomic and/ or cultural factors. Conclusions about the relevance of a particular group of factors become much less clear-cut when tested on a sample of nations such as the postcommunist bloc, which does not clearly belong to either the most affluent longstanding democracies or the less developed nations. This study examines the effects of the electoral system design- the most prominent of the political factors, using what Lijphart calls the controlled comparison method in a single post-communist country: Croatia. Since Croatia represents a single cultural and developmental 'container') changes in its levels of women's parliamentary representation must be attributed to some other factors. The conclusion of this study is that the gradual increase in the proportion of female representatives in Croatia cannot be wholly attributed to the changes in its electoral system. Identifying all of the reasons for that increase would require further party-level research.