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Ministerial Politics in Southeastern Europe: Appointment and Portfolio Allocation to Female Ministers

  • Ekaterina R. Rashkova (a1) and Emilia Zankina (a2)


In light of the growing scholarship on women's representation in the executive, we examine whether extant theories on the determinants of female ministerial appointments apply to and explain the role of women in the executive in new democracies. We are further interested in better understanding the dynamics of portfolio allocation to female ministers. Given the different meanings that the political left and right carry in new compared with established democracies, we argue that ministerial appointments and portfolio allocations reflect this difference and therefore show diverse results. Presenting data on women ministers in five southeastern European states between 1990 and 2018, we analyze the descriptive representation of women at the highest echelons of political power. We establish that while the standard claim found in the literature—that left political parties stage more women and with more progressive views, as shown primarily in scholarship on Western democracies, southeastern European women ministers who are given portfolios traditionally reserved for men are appointed primarily by parties of the right. Moreover, we find little support for the link between legislative and executive representation; rather, we see that the appointment of women ministers is related to the institutionalization level of the parties in power.

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The authors would like to thank the editor of the journal and two anonymous refererees, co- participants of the ECPG 2017 conference in Lausanne, and the participants of the USBO, 2017 PGM research day, for their helpful comments and remarks. All errors remain our own. Ekaterina Rashkova is also grateful for the financial and research support, which she received through a Swarovski Foundation Research Grant and the research facilities of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies during the writing of this article.



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Politics & Gender
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