Photo credit: Guillaume Levasseur, Le Devoir

The election of Valérie Plante

Although municipal politics is often viewed as more open to women, electoral under-representation persists, even at this level, and it is particularly acute in the mayor’s office. In Canada, just 18% of municipal mayors are women. In 2017, Valérie Plante broke the glass ceiling, becoming Montreal’s first woman mayor in the city’s 400-year history. Media coverage of her victory drew attention to her gender, but did gender matter all that much to voters?

In “Gender, Municipal Party Politics, and Montreal’s First Woman Mayor,” Mireille Paquet and I show how gender did and did not influence the outcome. A survey of Montreal electors reveals that gender was not a salient factor in their voice choice. However, as we argue, gender did shape the organization of the campaign and party. This article has been accepted for publication in the Canadian Journal of Urban Research.

We suggest that Plante’s victory can be explained in part by a strategy that showcased a less leader-centric party and a degendered campaign that helped counteract stereotypes about women’s unsuitability for positions of political leadership. Rather than positioning parties as a barrier to women’s political participation, as most past research does, we theorize them as a mobilizing institution with the potential to facilitate women’s electoral success at the local level. We heed the call for more research on local politics and, in doing so, our analysis highlights the evolution of municipal political parties from highly personalized, singularly focused electoral entities to more institutionalized and embedded features of local governance.

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Citation

Tolley, Erin and Mireille Paquet (2021). Gender, Municipal Party Politics, and Montreal’s First Woman Mayor. Canadian Journal of Urban Research 30(1): 87-101.

Photo credit: Guillaume Levasseur, Le Devoir


Race and candidate recruitment

There is growing attention to the descriptive representation of racialized minorities in politics. However, because of a systematic lack of data on nomination contestants’ racial backgrounds, most research looks at outcomes on election day, thus ignoring the crucial stages that help to shape minority candidate emergence.

Using a unique data set on nomination contestants and local party presidents in a recent Canadian election, this study demonstrates that while district diversity is one determinant of minority candidate emergence, the presence of a racialized local party president is also substantively important. In other words, if you’re a prospective candidate, who you know matters. The findings show that racialized party gatekeepers play a key role in the emergence of minority candidates, and these networks matter most in the districts with lower levels of racial diversity. The findings further suggest the general pattern of left-center parties facilitating minority candidate emergence may not apply in the Canadian context.

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Citation

Tolley, Erin. 2019. Who You Know: Local Party Presidents and Minority Candidate Emergence. Electoral Studies 58: 70-79. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.electstud.2019.02.007