European women first acquired the right to vote in 1906 in Finland. After the First World War, women were given the right to vote in a certain number of European countries. In the UK, it was gained in two stages: first in 1918, it was initially given to married women, women householders and women university graduates aged thirty years or over. In France, General de Gaulle gave the right to vote to women by decree in 1944, after the Senate had blocked proposals aimed at enfranchising French women several times. Many hoped, and others feared that women would vote as a bloc, creating thus a distinctive "women's vote". During the post-war era, it was established in political science that women proved more rightwing than men. The "gender gap" is a rather large phrase that can be used to refer to different phenomena, including divergences between men and women in turnout, political attitudes, social values, party identification and policy concerns. Concretely, we will focus on the difference in voting choice, which is certainly the most common usage. There can be divergences of behaviour between genders concerning a given issue or candidate. Gender may have a direct effect (for instance, if genders differ on their vision of ecology, this can influence their choice for Green parties), or an indirect effect on voting behaviour (lifestyles for example can make the voting choices diverge). It is not a fixed phenomenon, and the "gender gap" has constantly moved, according to eras and countries. For instance, the trend is completely inversed in countries such as Netherlands, where women have always been more left-wing than men. But we decided to focus on western European countries, as it's obvious that the gender gap is linked to culture.
[...] II_ A British/French approach of the phenomenon If the gender gap trend as described above has been observed in many Western European countries, a cross-national study proves that significant differences emerge. Analysing the 1994 Eurobarometer (table allows comparing different countries. The measurement depends obviously on how parties are classified along the right-left scale. The analysis for the major parties shows striking cross-national variations. In Britain, Italy and France for instance, women are more right-wing than men, whereas in Netherlands, Denmark, the United States and Canada, they proved more left- wing than men in their voting choice. [...]
[...] Yet, even modest gender differences in the electorate can have a significant impact, indeed a decisive one. The precise reasons for this so called “gender continue to “remain a puzzle”. It's obviously due to structural and cultural trends common to post-industrial societies. The traditional gender gap, reflecting a women's vote more conservative than the men's one, has been observed until the 1980's. At this era, a dealignment process was detected, the women's electoral behaviour becoming closer to the men's one. [...]
[...] The question is thus: What is the gender gap in voting behaviours and how has it moved since women's enfranchisement? To illustrate our explanations, we will particularly use the examples of France and Great Britain, and talk about the situation in these countries. The three phases gender-gap trend The gender gap phenomenon is a moving trend. Has gender, seen as a historically social construction, always directed women's voting behaviour? Many observers have looked into the question, searching for general features and explaining factors of the movement. [...]
[...] Actually, women progressively tipped over left-winging, and then an alignment with men's behaviours in voting was observed. A homogenization of living conditions allowed the trend of dealignment, but towards a similar situation, both genders can have different reactions that are reflected in the voting act. can conclude that there was no voting gap in European countries in recent years; overall women and men were very similar in their electoral choices and ideological positions. There is a potential gender gap, however, as women and men disagree significantly on a range of issues. [...]
[...] Extreme right evolution for the parliamentary elections (in Sources : SOFRES polls and CEVIPOF surveys 1997 The “antilepéniste” phenomenon Men Women Gap values defense second ballot democracy Source: PEF 2002 Bibliography Mariette Sineau, paradoxes du gender gap à la française” in Le nouveau désordre électoral under the supervision of Bruno Cautrès and Nonna Mayer, Paris “Women in politics”, in Parliamentary Affairs, January 1996 Nina Seppala, “Women and the vote in Western Europe” in Voter Turnout in Western Europe since 1945 by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance Pippa Norris, “Mobilising the women's vote : The Gender-Generation Gap in Voting Behaviour” Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris, developmental theory of the Gender Gap : Women and [...]
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