The Political Inclusion of Youth: Quotas, Parties, and Elections in Democratic and Democratizing States
Belschner, Jana Birke
This cumulative PhD dissertation studies the political inclusion of young men and women in democratic and democratizing states. It compares three aspects of political inclusion on the macro, meso, and micro levels of analysis: quotas, parties, and elections. The articles in the dissertation ask where and why states adopt quotas for youth, how parties implement the regulations, and how young candidates' age impacts their electoral performance. With its focus on youth, the dissertation explores the under-representation of a group that has, so far, received little scholarly attention. While existing research has focused on describing and explaining cross-national patterns of political youth representation, this dissertation aims to unpack processes and factors leading to representational outcomes. It does so by focusing on the entry and inclusion of youth into politics, which, arguably, precede and condition their descriptive representation. The dissertation as a whole builds on and contributes to the literatures of gender & politics, political parties, and electoral studies. It is composed of five independent articles, of which three are published in peer-reviewed journals and an edited volume, and two are currently under review.
The first article, ''The adoption of youth quotas after the Arab uprisings", was published in Politics, Groups, and Identities and compares the actors and processes leading to the adoption of gender and youth quotas in Tunisia and Morocco (Belschner 2018). The second article, ''Hierarchies of Representation: The Re-distributive Effects of Gender and Youth Quotas", co-authored with Marta Garcia de Paredes, is published in Representation and explores the intersectional effects of paired gender and youth quotas cross-nationally and in three case-studies of Tunisia, Morocco, and Sweden (Belschner and Garcia de Paredes 2020). The third article, ''Empowering Young Women? Gender and Youth Quotas in Tunisia", was published in Darhour & Dahlerup (2020) and investigates the backgrounds of young female MPs and their positions in the Tunisian parliament (Belschner 2020). The fourth article, ''Electoral Engineering in New Democracies. Parties, Quotas, and Institutional Uncertainty" is currently under review. It focuses on Tunisian local elections and asks under what conditions parties are willing and able to comply with quotas for multiple groups. The fifth article, ''Youth Advantage vs. Gender Penalty: Selecting and Electing Young Candidates" is under review as well and analyses the conditions for young candidates' electoral success in Irish local elections.
Theoretically, methodically, and empirically, all articles stand on their own. To varying degrees, they all employ quantitative as well as qualitative data and while some are classical (comparative) case-studies, others take a cross-national perspective to address the above-mentioned research questions. Geography-wise, the articles focus on North Africa, particularly Tunisia, and Western Europe, particularly Ireland. Tunisia is one of the few countries that has legislated youth quotas both on the national and the local level of politics. It is a suitable case to explore how newly founded parties in a recent democratic system approach the issue of political youth inclusion, which seems particularly pressing in light of the 2011 youth-led revolution. Ireland complements the accounts from Tunisia, being an industrialised democracy with a very low proportion of youth in formal politics. Political parties here are longstanding and while there are no youth quotas in Ireland, parties have to deal with the inclusion of the politicized 'post Economic Crisis' youth generation.
The dissertation as a whole offers a comparative perspective on processes of political inclusion. While its main focus is on youth, the analyses are conducted through an intersectional lens exploring the different conditions for young men and women. Specific theoretical contributions of the articles include a strategy for measuring and comparing the descriptive (under-)representation of intersectional groups (article 2), which may be used beyond the study of gender/age groups, as well as a theoretical framework to study parties' compliance with electoral quotas in new democracies (article 4). A further theoretical contribution is the conceptualization of electoral resources as factors mediating young candidates' electoral performance (article 5).
Empirically, the dissertation finds that youth quotas have, so far, always been introduced in addition to simultaneously or previously adopted gender quotas. Unlike the latter, youth quotas have been top-down initiatives by the domestic political elites rather than the result of demands made by civil society movements in Tunisia and Morocco (article 1). When faced with paired gender and youth quotas, parties tend to enact these in a strategic manner that, depending on the specific design of the regulations, can favour the selection of young female candidates over middle-aged female and, in particular, young male candidates (article 2). This, however, does not automatically lead to young women being empowered in parliament, where middle-aged legislators, especially men, continue to occupy positions of power (article 3). This dissertation also finds that, in the context of new democracies, parties deal with high degrees of institutional uncertainty. They may, therefore, not be equally able to comply with electoral quotas, meaning that organizationally stronger parties benefit from competitive advantages (article 4). Finally, the dissertation suggests that, when endowment with electoral resources is accounted for, being young may provide a net electoral advantage to candidates. However, this advantage appears to be gendered, and more accessible for young men (article 5).
In sum, the dissertation contributes to the emerging research agenda on the political representation of youth. Taking an intersectional, gender-sensitive perspective, it adds theoretical and empirical knowledge about processes conditioning different levels of the descriptive representation of youth. It thereby also contributes to the gender and politics literature as well as research into political parties and electoral studies. Given the legitimacy challenges currently facing both developing democracies with large youth populations and established democracies with ageing societies, the dissertation is an important step towards understanding the conditions for the political inclusion and descriptive representation of youth in both those settings.
The University of Bergen
Paper 1: Belschner, Jana (2018). The adoption of youth quotas after the Arab uprisings.
In: Politics, Groups, and Identities, in press. The article is available in the main thesis. The article is also available at: <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/21565503.2018.1528163" target="blank"> https://doi.org/10.1080/21565503.2018.1528163</a>; Paper 2: Belschner, Jana and Marta Garcia de Paredes (2020). Hierarchies of Representation: The Re-distributive Effects of Gender and Youth Quotas. In: Represen-
tation, in press. The article is available in the main thesis. The article is also available at: <a href=" https://doi.org/10.1080/00344893.2020.1778510" target="blank"> https://doi.org/10.1080/00344893.2020.1778510</a>; Paper 3: Belschner, Jana (2020). Empowering Young Women? Gender and Youth Quotas
in Tunisia. In: Double-Edged Politics on Women's Rights in the MENA Region.
Ed. by Hanane Darhour and Drude Dahlerup. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.
257-278. The chapter is not available in BORA due to publisher restrictions. The published version is available at: <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-27735-2_10" target="blank"> https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-27735-2_10</a>; Paper 4: Belschner, Jana. Electoral Engineering in New Democracies. Parties,
Quotas, and Institutional Uncertainty. The article is not available in BORA.; Paper 5: Belschner, Jana. Youth Advantage vs. Gender Penalty: Selecting
and Electing Young Candidates. The article is not available in BORA.
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