ABSTRACT

After the fall of the state socialist regimes in 1989-1990, the representation of women in positions of political power declined precipitously all over the former state socialist region. From a peak of about 30%, the proportion of women in parliament dropped to less than 15% in Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia). The decline should evoke both curiosity and concern: From an academic point of view, the democratizing societies of East-Central Europe are useful testing grounds for theories on gender and political participation, while from the point of view of activism and policy making, women’s sharp withdrawal from the political arena is a tendency unobserved elsewhere in Europe and cause for alarm as these countries join the European Union and send (mostly male) representatives to its political institutions.