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Breaking Male Dominance in Old Democracies$
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Drude Dahlerup and Monique Leyenaar

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199653898

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199653898.001.0001

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Sweden: Step by Step—Women’s Inroads into Parliamentary Politics

Sweden: Step by Step—Women’s Inroads into Parliamentary Politics

(p.97) 5 Sweden: Step by Step—Women’s Inroads into Parliamentary Politics
Breaking Male Dominance in Old Democracies

Lenita Freidenvall

Oxford University Press

In worldwide comparisons of women in national parliaments, Sweden is regularly ranked at the top of the lists. Since universal suffrage was introduced in 1921, the proportion of women parliamentarians has gradually increased to the current level, with a take-off phase in the 1970s when the 20 per cent threshold was passed. Thus, the development can be characterized as incremental. The chapter analyses women’s access to power and influence in the Swedish parliament in three stages, which can be seen as critical junctures representing crucial institutional and discursive changes. The three stages identified are: ‘the obligatory woman’ (1921–1971), ‘the 51% minority’ (1972–1993), and ‘every other one for the ladies’ (1994–2012). This chapter argues that in order to explain women’s inroads into Swedish politics, one must pay close attention to institutions, actors, and discourses shaping the outcome. Key actors analysed are political parties including party leaders, women’s federations, and the autonomous women’s movement.

Keywords:   Sweden, Swedish parliament, candidate selection, zipper system, women’s federations

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