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Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation
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Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation

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Conference presentation: ‘Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation’ presented at the Sociological Association of Aotearoa/New Zealand …

Conference presentation: ‘Negative perceptions of Chilean politics: a possible reason for women’s low political representation’ presented at the Sociological Association of Aotearoa/New Zealand (SAANZ) Annual Conference, Massey University, Palmerston North, Nov 22-24, 2009.

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  • The 2006 election of Michele Bachelet, Chile’s first female president, marked a new era in perceptions and representation of Chilean politics. Regardless of the female presence in politics, however, issues of corruption, dishonesty, reproachable behaviour of MPs and public servants remain synonymous with Chilean politics. Such negative associations prevent the political field from becoming more gender inclusive; female politicians in Chile are still minority.
    In politics, perceptions about the political system, representatives, parties and leaders, political culture and democracy determine the way we engage with politics: from distrust, disinterest and discontentment, to social mobilization and citizenry participation. Interview analysis demonstrates that Chilean politicians’ own discourse about politics is largely negative and is interwoven with their views about the under-representation of women in politics.
  • Women’s participation in politics has been becoming a topic of great interest for social scientists in the last 20 years
  • Analysis and studies that look at women’s representation in politics have focused their attention largely on:
    Reasons to explain women’s low representation in politics
    Strategies to increase women’s representation in politics
    structural factors preventing women’s advancement in politics, such as electoral and politicals system, political parties, affirmative actions and gender quotas
    In lesser numbers, there some studies that have looked at some cultural dimensions
    religion, attitudes to democracy, ideology
    While both, cultural and structural factors may help us to understand why women remain under-represented in politics, little has been said about the effect that politicians’ negative perceptions about politics might have in preventing a further advancement of women’s representation in politics.
  • The following talk presents an analysis of Chilean politician’s perception of politics. Which were largely negative. Starting from this point I suggest that one of the reasons for explaining the current women’s low political representation in Chilean politics is the negative views that politicians hold about politics.
    But before commencing I would like to talk a briefly about the this study.
    This research is part of my PhD thesis investigation on Women’s participation in Chilean politics: meaning and implications.
  • In this opportunity, I will discuss one of my lines of analysis which is Chilean politician’s perception of politics in the context of the analysis of female politicians in Chilean politics.
    The field work of my research included 34 interviews with both female and male Chilean politicians
    Interviews carried out in Chile between December 2007 and February 2008
    Interviews carried out in Spanish
    I
  • In Chile, politicians manifest negative perceptions about politics. These negative perceptions encompass two dimensions: the political activity itself and the political field, which involves political institutions, actors and culture. In the case of the political activity, politicians largely agree that being a politician and working as politicians is a complex, taught and brutal activity. The following quotes from interviews with Chilean politicians reflect this perception:
  • On the other hand, interviewees expresed negative perceptions about what their called “the political world”. Chilean politicians’ discontent has to do with the functioning of politics as a whole. For many in Chile, politics is largely discredited and disconnected from society. It does not generate sympathy, but the contrary, disaffection.
  • Moreover the political system is seem as outdated and not reflecting anymore what is happening in society.
  • Furthermore, politics seems unable to bring collective issues into discussion. Collective issues are discussed within elites disregarding people concerns and needs. Women in politics my contribute to make politics more integrated.
  • On a more general level, one in which encompasses the earlier. There is a critique about the quality of Chilean Democracy. A significant number of interviews manifested a profound discontent with the lack of democratic culture and the consequences that this has brought for Chilean society: exclusion and low levels of political participation. The following quotes from interviews with Chilean politicians reflect this:
  • The legacy of the dictatorship period and a precarious and weak Chilean democratic culture is, according to interviewees, what explains one of the main faults of the Chilean political system; that is to say, low levels of participation.
  • Low levels of political participation of citizenry has already been put in evidence by the Democracy Index, in which Chile scored their lowest mark in political participation and political culture (Economist, 2009; The Economist, 2007). This lack of democratic culture would lead to low levels of participation. Thus, the Chilean democratic deficit is another factor that contributes to preventing greater participation of women in politics.
  • As we can observe, the discourse of politicians reflects their very critical views about politics. Negative perception refers to both structural and cultural dimension of politics and reflects politics as contentious, with little emotional involvement, for which it appears distant from common people. On the other hand, there is a lack of enthusiasm and involvement, mostly due to low levels of efficiency that political activity displays. Moreover, political parties and politicians are seen as conflictive, belligerent, opportunistic and male chauvinists, as we will see next.
  • On the other hand members of the congress are also strongly criticized.
  • Furthermore, the presidential system, the constitution and the electoral system are strongly criticized by the majority of Chilean politicians.
  • Centralization, high concentration of power are part of the features of the Chilean presidential system
  • On the other hand, the constitution and the electoral system receive strong critiques.
  • As strong as the previous might sound, this is the diagnosis that Chilean politicians have about their political system. A special mention should be given to the electoral system applied in Chilean legislative elections, which for many politicians represents one of the most visible legacies of the dictatorship period and impediments for further democracy and greater representation of women in politics.
  • The Chilean binominal system favours coalition slates. In this system, each coalition can present two candidates for the two Senate and two lower-chamber seats apportioned to each chamber's electoral districts.
    Typically, the two largest coalitions split the seats in a district, as we could observe in Table 1, Case 1, in which candidates A and B are elected.
    However, when the largest coalition has two candidates with the largest majorities, like in Case 2, but it does not achieve double the voting of the second most voted coalition (coalition 2).
    The elected candidates are the ones with the highest voting of each coalition, in this case candidates A and C. Only if the leading coalition ticket outpolls the second-place coalition by a margin of more than 2-to-1 does the winning coalition gain both seats, like in Case 3, when the coalition 1 reach 60% of voting.
  • According to the majority of interviews, the binominal electoral system is one of the major impediments to reach a greater democracy and representation of women in politics from an institutional point of view.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Negative perceptions of Chilean politics a possible reason for women’s low political representation Paula Pereda PhD Candidate Victoria University of Wellington 2009 1
    • 2. The 2006 election of Michele Bachelet Chile’s first female president, marked a new era in perceptions and representation of Chilean politics 2
    • 3. Women in politics 3
    • 4. The study of Women in Politics  Reasons to explain women’s low representation in politics (Flisfisch, 1990; López-Claros & Zahidi, 2005; Macaulay, 1999; Urrejola & Gardella, 2009)  Strategies to increase women’s representation in politics (Bratton, 2005; Haas, 2005; Lovenduski, 2005; Macaulay, 2005; Studlar & McAllister, 2002)  Structural and cultural factor preventing greater women’s representation in politics  electoral and political system, political parties, affirmative actions and gender quotas (Azza, 2002; Gray, 2003; Jones, 2000; Luciak, 2005; Norris & Lovenduski, 1993; Rios & Villar, 2006; Seidman, 1999)  religion, attitudes to democracy, ideology (Brooks, 2003; Paxton & Kunovich, 2003; Phillips, 1991; Smith & Prokopy, 1999) 4
    • 5. The study of politicians´ perceptions of politics  Encompasses both, structural and cultural dimensions preventing further increase of women ´s representation in politics.  Allows identifying strategies to women ´s representation in politics. 5
    • 6. Chilean politicians’ perceptions   34 Interviews Interviews to female and male Chilean politicians        Senators Deputes Leaders of Political Parties Public Servants Key informants Interviews carried out in Chile between December 2007 and February 2008 Interviews carried out in Spanish 6
    • 7. Politics 7
    • 8. Political activity  “Politics is a very cruel activity and not given much to beneficence or to charity. In democracy, politics is a tough competition for the support of the citizenry, so I argue that this fight is not a fight for power, but a cultural battle” (…) (G. Duarte, Depute).  “…people in Chile are seeing politics as very contentious (...) today politics is so decadent, it generates high levels of distrust and apathy” (Lily Perez, Depute). 8
    • 9. Political world    “The political world is very tough and arid” (Lily Perez, Depute). “…the masculine political world lacks generosity. For instance, from the beginning of Michelle Bachelet’s presidency, politicians, even within her own political party, discounted her ability to lead the country” (Halabi, R, Public Servant). “There is a lack of pedagogies for empowerment for the political world. The discourse of the family on politics is negative, on the other hand the religious discourse do not call to the political commitment” (R. Halabi, Public Servant) 9
    • 10. Political system  “Our political system is a flat political system, not updated and anachronistic, (…) there is a fracture between political elite and citizenry, and that happens also in the ambit of women. You have a dialogue of no dialogue” (…) (A. Barrios, Public Servant, candidate to Depute). 10
    • 11. Politics disconnected  “In politics, little is talked about collective topics, little is talked about education (…) social issues are losing relevance within politics. In our case, politics has the tremendous challenge of bringing collective issues in the way it does (...). Then, that way of looking at the micro, I think that is something that women can do more easily, I do not think this is unique to women, but I think there is a way of making politics more integrated....” (C. Montes, Depute) 11
    • 12. The questioning of Democracy 12
    • 13. Democracy  “…when democracy arrived, the democratization process in Chile was 40% not 100%. It has cost us year after year to break the existing levels of atomization” (A. Barrios, Public Servant, candidate to Depute).   “The discourse of democratic participation is an absent issue from our authorities (…) There is a huge democratic deficit.” (R. Halabi, Public Servant) “…There is a lack of belief in a true democracy, then one tends to think that the traditional political world is afraid of more democracy…” (A. Zondek, Public Servant) 13
    • 14. Participation  “….more participation of all is required, more for all, not just for the woman (…) you have to have more participation for all. Wherever you go the issue of participation is a key issue in Chile; political parties complain about more participation, more in the senate, more in the system, more in the parliament, the consumers want more participation in the laws that involve them, the workers want more participation in their unions and in the company... (…) from a general point of view more participation is required, but I do not feel that there is a system to do so” (A. Barrios, Public Servant, candidate to Depute). 14
    • 15. Political Parties 15
    • 16. 16
    • 17. Political Parties (I) “I think the parties are in a crisis so brutal, that gender is an issue ... but they have bigger problems such as nepotism: political parties have today 80% of their members working for the government (…) I have the worst opinion of political parties, the worst!. For their political practices, for what they embody, for the lack of reflection, for the discussions they present. And in between, there is the gender issue that seems to me another evidence of their deep vulgarity” (Marco Enriquez Ominami, Ex Depute, currently candidate to Presidency). 17
    • 18. Political Parties (II)   “Chilean politics has a very low degree of professionalism, then, party institutions are fragile; they do not have party finance. Therefore, political parties do not have permanent qualify staff….” (Pepe Auth, President Party for Democracy, candidate to Depute) “...I have the impression that political parties have incorporated many more women for a completely utilitarian view of politics” (G. Duarte, Depute). 18
    • 19. The congress 19
    • 20. Deputes and Senators  “I'm trying to be a super objective with men and women…sometimes you see some real jerks as deputies and senators, really pathetic, they contribute every day exclusively and constantly to make the population feel that politics is shit and they are not women, they are men (…) I think they contribute so much that they make that the ones who like politics think that politics is the worst vocation (….)”(A. Barrios, Public Servant, candidate to Depute). 20
    • 21. The presidential system, the constitution and the electoral system 21
    • 22. Presidential system   "The degree of centralization of power (...) of the presidential constitution that ultimately makes that we have not expedited mechanisms for participation… (A. Navarro, Senator). “…this is a strong presidential system, due to its history, its constitution, its normative legal” (A. Barrios, Public Servant, candidate to Depute).  “(…) if you look at the cake and do an analysis of power in Chile, you could speak about presidential monarchy, about presidential Caesarism (…)…it is essential a new constitution, it is essential new law on political parties and changing the binomial. It is essential a unicameral parliamentary system rather than bicameral”22 (G. Duarte, Depute).
    • 23. Chilean constitution and electoral system (I) “… we have a constitution that is very excluding, we have an electoral system that is very excluding. That starts excluding important and representative groups of this country, where men and women come together…(A. Rifo, Member Political Party and Union leader)” 23
    • 24. Chilean constitution and electoral system (II) “The binomial electoral system, the Constitution itself, are all institutions that remain from the dictatorship period(...) The structures in this country are poor. If I could I would tell the President to call for a new constitution to change these things” (Carmen Lazo, Ex Depute, Political Party Leader). 24
    • 25. The Chilean binominal system 25
    • 26. The Chilean binominal system (I) It favours coalition slates. In this system, each electoral coalition can present two candidates for the two Senate and two lower-chamber seats apportioned to each chamber's electoral district. Table 1 Electoral Coalitions Case 1 Case 2 Case 3 Coalition 1 40% 50% 60% Candidate A Candidate B 30% 10% 30% 20% 50% 10% Coalition 2 40% 30% 30% Candidate C Candidate D 22% 18% 18% 12% 18% 12% Coalition 3 20% 20% 10% Candidate E Candidate F 11% 9% 11% 9% 6% 4% 26
    • 27. The Chilean binominal system (II)  “…everyone (MPs) make great speeches about the need for change, but at the time that this change involves the modification of their district size, the modification of their electorate, of those who are going to participate in the election of the of candidate, they say no I will not vote my death certificate” (Pepe Auth, Leader of Political Party, candidate to Depute).”  “…everyone tells you that they really agree with the importance of incorporating women, but they block all the spaces .... that is, I can guarantee that the modification of the binomial system that allows expand the number of candidates per constituency or district, establishing quotas, it would be an absolutely viable solution...” (G. Duarte, Depute) 27
    • 28. The Chilean binominal system (III)   “The binominal system per se is very complex for applying any type of affirmative action; and changing the binominal system is even more complex, without thinking in gender quota law. I am in favour of modify the binominal system (…) I believe we have to open spaces, I believe we have… we are not going to end, but at least we are going to improve the issue of exclusion (Carla Rubilar, Depute).” “The binominal system is a perverse system, it does not allow real competition, but competition between the two most powerful coalitions and that’s it. Therefore, the representativeness is not the citizenry representativeness, but the representativeness of the power of political parties (Andrea Zondek, Public Servant).” 28
    • 29. The Chilean binominal system (IV)  “…the binomial system puts all political actors in complex situations, there tends to be a fight within the political apparatus and there tend to predominate those that were previously installed, it does not open spaces for renewal, for the emergence of new leaders. The system tends to be very exclusionary, but not only for women, but also for young people, for innovation, for others, that is, it is conservative” (C. Montes, Depute). 29
    • 30. Final comments      Negative perceptions about politics does not greatly affect those who are already in politics Women in Chilean politics still minority The few women in Chilean politics are part of the traditional class Newcomers, including women, are forced to deal not only with the social discredit of politics and lack of familiarity with the political world, but with negative perceptions of Chilean politics in general In this context, being a women in Chilean politics is like starting a business during the economic crisis 30
    • 31. “The most complicated issue of greater women’s participation in politics is the great demagogy within the political world (G. Duarte, Depute). ” 31
    • 32. The End Thanks for your attention 32

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