Journal of Latin American Studies

The ‘Gender Gap’ in Chile

a1 Tulane University.

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Men and women in Chile register and vote at separate polling booths. Election results are also tabulated separately for each sex by the Ministry of Interior, down to commune level. A survey of national elections from 1952 to 1970 shows that women and men have different voting preferences. Moreover, results from the four congressional elections held since democracy was restored in 1989 demonstrate that those preferences persist to the present. By focusing on elections in the capital city of Santiago, which is divided into 52 communes (barrios) whose residents differ in their economic and educational levels, it is possible to see to what extent class and gender affect voting preferences. On the basis of an analysis of this data, this article concludes that women are consistently more likely than men to vote for conservative parties, and that this is true in every social class. Support for the left does rise among both sexes in the lower middle class, proletarian and peasant communes – but less among women than among men. The ‘gender gap’ is not usually very large (although it increases at both ends of the political spectrum), but it is persistent.

(Published Online November 17 2004)