Case Study: Miljöpartiet de Gröna, Sweden

Founded in 1981, the Miljöpartiet de Gröna is a Swedish movement-based environmental party, requiring its national boards and committees to consist of no more than 60 percent of one gender. It was formed at a time of widespread discontent, with the established parties’ response to environmental concerns starting to play an increasingly salient role in the Swedish public discourse.


The key challenge faced by the party was to reconcile its alternative identity with a need for efficient organization. It was integral to the party’s identity to cultivate its anti-mainstream character, but its disorganization created inefficiencies that impeded the party’s efforts to establish itself within the conventional political system. The structural reform the partyrequired, however, signified a shift towards the format commonly associated with the well-established political parties.


In response to the trade-off, the Greens decided to adopt a more formal organizational structure, but decided to insert into it their own set of values. What resulted was an alternative organizational structure that incorporated, amongst other ideas, gender quotas for intraparty bodies,very strict term limits, collective leadership features, and a co-spokespersons model. For those voters whose decision to support the Greens relied heavily on the party’s promotion of gender-balanced political representation, the structural embodiment of its gender-egalitarian values had the potential to increase the degree to which they were confident about their party preference. Given that there are some reasons to believe that more women in leadership means stronger party support for gender equality regardless of ideological party placement, increased women’s intraparty representation resulting from the statutory quota provisions had a potentially higher effect on the party’s perceived commitment to the question of gender equality.


The introduction of gender quotas for intraparty organizational bodies has served to strengthen the party’s ties with its core supporters. By incorporating its gender-egalitarian principles into its organizational structure, the party’s commitment to the question of gender equality was likely to gain credibility in the eyes of those voters who consider the subject key to their party choice.
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