What Helps Women More: Gender Quota or Multiple Vote? Evidence from Quasi-Experiments in the Elections to the Polish Municipality Councils

Michaล‚ Gulczyล„ski, Bocconi University


This study exploits a series of natural experiments to estimate the causal impact of electoral rules, gender quota in particular, on the representation of women in local legislative bodies. In the municipality elections in Poland in the years 2002-2018 the arbitrary threshold of 20 000 inhabitants divided municipalities into different electoral rules. This allows to apply the sharp Regression Discontinuity Design (RDD). This study finds no sufficiently robust evidence of the effect of number of seats in the council, multiple non-transferable vote, first-past-the-post nor proportional system on the number of elected women, age nor education of councillors, despite the strong positive effect of gender quota on the number of female candidates and the share of votes received by women. The number of women in the municipality councils grows gradually with time irrespectively of the electoral systems. In turn, the results suggest a backlash effect against female candidates in mayoral elections.