During this presentation, Professor Hilde Coffé will discuss a recent study investigating to what extent German citizens support measures to increase women’s and ethnic minorities’ political representation, and to what extent such support is influenced by their knowledge about the descriptive representation of women and ethnic minorities in parliament.
Using experimental data collected in 2016-2017 within the scope of the German Longitudinal Election Study (GLES), little support is found for the introduction of measures to increase women’s political representation, and even less support for measures to increase the representation of ethnic minorities.
Over or underestimating the representation of women and ethnic minorities in parliament has little effect on the belief that something should be done to increase their representation. Yet, those who do not know the proportion of women and ethnic minorities in parliament are more likely to not know whether measures should be introduced to increase their representation. However, when those who do not know the proportion of women in the German Bundestag are provided with the correct information about women’s descriptive representation, their likelihood to support the introduction of measures to increase women’s representation grows.
While such pattern is not observed for support for the introduction of measures to increase the representation of ethnic minorities, it does suggest that getting the correct information may make uninformed citizens change their mind about the introduction of measures to increase the descriptive representation of certain underrepresented groups.
Hilde Coffé is Professor in Politics at the University of Bath, Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies.
Her main research interests include public opinion, voting behaviour and political representation.
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