Gendered Research into Anti-System Politics

Through the Gendered Research on Anti System Politics program,IRI aims to dissect and better understand political identity and support in the shifting world of political competition in Central Eastern Europe by conducting original research on the involvement of women in ”anti-system” political parties. The target areas for research are Austria, Estonia, Hungary, Slovakia, and the five regions that compose the former German Democratic Republic (Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia). IRI has contracted five researchers from each of these countries to write case studies on the subject. The researchers range from university professors to elections experts, and together have over 50 years of experience in engaging gender-related issues in politics.

Empowered with the findings from this research, IRI hopes to shed light on the lived experiences of women in these countries and their perspectives on and experiences with political parties. As such, the program’s research will not only gather and analyze available sources of quantitative data but will also endeavor to capture women’s voices through one-on-one interviews and participant observation. The countries identified for research maintain varying degrees of fringe parties and movements, many of which have become increasingly emboldened by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated social and economic challenges. As a component of IRI’s ongoing efforts to empower women’s participation in democratic political life, this program further seeks to use the research’s findings to build stronger connections between representative political parties and women. In doing so, IRI works to enhance women’s representation and assist parties in developing better policies that help coalesce women’s support.

In furthering the program’s goals, IRI hosted a gathering of program researchers in Bratislava, Slovakia from July 19-21, 2021. The researchers met to discuss their progress so far in the project, as well as to calcify terminology, review research, and finalize an interview protocol. The gathering also allowed the researchers to share ideas and best practices, and researchers heard from multiple expert speakers on the topic of gender and voting in the region.  The final publication, intended for publication in March 2022, will ultimately deliver research findings and recommendations to inform IRI’s network of mainstream political stakeholders on gender engagement and will help bring light to the priorities and identities among women in the populations these mainstream parties seek to serve. IRI hopes this project will lay a strong foundation for further projects relating to women’s political agency and representation across Central and Eastern Europe.

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