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Islamist Women as Candidates in Elections: A Comparison of the Party of Justice and Development in Morocco and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

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This paper examines the legislative recruitment of women from conservative Islamist parties. It questions the common assumption that generally all Islamist parties are equally hostile to political participation and representation of women. For this purpose, two of the electorally most successful Islamist groups in the MENA region are compared, namely the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its Moroccan offshoot, the Party of Justice and Development (PJD). The article seeks an explanation for diverging trends in female candidacy between these conservative religious movements, using the traditional supply and demand model of candidate selection. It argues that the less centralized and the more institutionalized parties (as is the case with the PJD) seem to be better equipped to facilitate women’s candidacy than the more oligarchic ones (the MB). In order to fully grasp the reasons behind the diverging trends in the nomination of female candidates from both Islamist parties, cultural factors are scrutinized as well. The article highlights the limits of the supply and demand model of candidate selection, which cannot explain instances of unexpected change in recruitment strategies based on external interference. Furthermore, it does not provide us the means to assess the impact of individual candidates’ ‘feminist credentials’ on overall female representation.

Affiliations: 1: Comenius University in Bratislava, Department of Political Science


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