The Experience Premium and Women's Nomination to Local Elections in South Africa's African National Congress Party

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Party Politics

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What explains women’s underrepresentation in first-past-the-post compared to at-large elections? While existing studies emphasize candidate experience or party nomination to competitive districts, we argue that local party selectors are more likely to desire women to have a type of political experience that signals their connection to the national party. To test our argument, we use a novel dataset of over 10,000 local candidates nominated by South Africa’s African National Congress party. In South Africa’s Mixed Member Proportional system, we find that compared to men, women are more likely to be nominated in FPTP elections after having previous experience as PR councillors. Previous PR experience is distinct from other forms of experience such as incumbency, and contextual factors such as pre-electoral intra-party violence do not explain women’s nomination to FPTP seats. These findings contribute to our understanding of how electoral systems impact parties’ nomination of female candidates at the local level.


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