Poland maintained its open-list PR system but introduced gender quotas in the 2011 parliamentary elections in order to increase the number of women deputies. Yet this change had only a limited impact on women’s representation. The 2011 election confirms that ‘favorable’ electoral laws provide opportunities for women, but they cannot guarantee that women will be elected. In particular, the use of quotas alone is not sufficient to ensure high levels of women’s representation. The most important factors in explaining the Polish result were 1) the absence of a ‘zipper’, a list ordering that alternates men and women candidates, thus ensuring high list-places for women 2) the parties’ favoring of men in their list placement 3) the relative size of the political parties and 4) voters’ support for list leaders and incumbent deputies. Despite a disappointing outcome, quotas may be seen as beneficial in increasing women’s presence and the potential for further evolution of the electoral system.

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