The alternative incumbency effect: Electing women legislators in Indonesia

Sarah Shair-Rosenfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Between the 1999 and 2009 elections the proportion of national female legislators in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim majority democracy, more than doubled. While this substantial increase may partly be explained by the recent imposition of a gender quota and placement mandate that have forced parties to increase the number of female candidates, quotas cannot fully explain the strong performance of women in the 2009 elections. First, many parties placed women higher on their lists than the laws required; second, voters appeared to over vote for women in some districts. Although incumbency's typical effect is to inhibit female electoral success by advantaging traditional (male) competitors, I argue that women benefited largely from an alternative effect: female incumbency can improve female candidate placement and electability by demonstrating female capacity and capability. Female newcomers benefited strongly from the presence of female incumbents in their own and bordering districts, thus suggesting a positive diffusion effect of female incumbency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)576-587
Number of pages12
JournalElectoral Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Elections
  • Gender quota
  • Incumbency
  • Indonesia
  • Political parties
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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