Welcome Madam President: effects of a female presidential candidate on the mobilisation of young, female voters in Slovakia
Williams, Phoebe Letitia Neame
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Slovakia did not appear frequently in international media headlines until the election of the first female President to the republic, Zuzana Čaputová, in 2019. Women are underrepresented in Slovak politics, and young women are particularly underrepresented and frequently deemed to be disinterested in politics. This research examines whether having a female presidential candidate effects the mobilisation of young, female voters in Slovakia. Twelve in-depth interviews were undertaken with young women in Slovakia, using questions based on a modified version of gender-strategic mobilisation theory. The theory has three core tactics (1. appealing to young women directly, 2. evoking women’s multiple gendered identities; and 3. promising change that appeals particularly to young women). Interviews were transcribed and analysed using predominantly deductive themes. Čaputová was able to mobilise young, female voters in her campaign largely through her transparency, liberal politics, and anti-corruption stance. She was a symbolic change for Slovakia, as the first elected female president, as an ardent defender of human rights, and through her decorum and respect in politics and political discourse. Nonetheless, other factors during the 2018-2019 period threw Slovak politics into flux, and serendipitous timing aided her campaign. These factors help to contextualise Čaputová’s entrance and success in contemporary Slovak politics.
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