The Gender Gap in Brazilian Politics and the Role of the Electoral Court

Autor: Luciana de Oliveira Ramos

Virgílio Afonso da Silva


Like many other countries, Brazil has adopted gender quotas in elections for legislatures at all levels of the federation. However, Brazilian gender quotas have been ineffective at increasing women’s participation in politics. Authors usually point to reasons related to the electoral system and party structure. This article analyzes a variable that is rarely considered: the role of the Electoral Court. We argue that the quality and intensity of the control exercised by an electoral court, when called upon to decide on the enforcement of the gender quota law, can influence the efficacy of this policy. We show that, in general, the Brazilian Superior Electoral Court tends to foster the participation of women in politics. However, based on two divides — between easy and difficult cases and between cases with low and high impact — we argue that in the realm of gender quotas, this court takes a rather restrained stance in those cases considered both difficult and with high impact.

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