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Petra Meier, "The Mutual Contagion Effect of Legal and Party Quotas: A Belgian Perspective," Party Politics, 10 (September, 2004), 583-600.

First Paragraph:
When speaking of quotas designed to improve the gender balance in political decision-making, a distinction is generally made between those adopted by political parties and those legally imposed (Dahlerup, 1998). While party quotas are more common (Council of Europe, 2000; Interparliamentary Union, 1997), because of their broader compulsory character, legally imposed quotas are both more controversial and more effective. Nonetheless, their number has risen steadily since the beginning of the 1990s. Their concentration is highest in Latin America, where the introduction of the ëley de cuposí in Argentina in 1991 was the first time, anywhere in the world, that national legislation had imposed a gender ratio for electoral lists. This not only had an impact on the number of women elected in Argentina, but also served as a reference for other Latin American legislation on quotas (Jimenez Polanco, 2001). To date, no fewer than 12 Latin American countries have adopted gender quota acts (Htun and Jones, 2002; Marques-Pereira and Nolasco, 2001). In Europe, France and Italy were the first countries to pass laws imposing gender quotas for electoral lists, in 1982 and 1993, respectively. Their Constitutional Courts, however, repealed both acts (Allwood and Wadia, 2000; Guadagnini, 1999). Belgium adopted quota legislation in 1994 (and updated it in 2002), and France introduced its parity legislation in 2000. Other countries with a national law on gender quotas are Namibia and the Democratic Peopleís Republic of Korea (Reynolds and Reilly, 1997). Countries such as India, Jordan and Morocco reserve a minimum number of seats for women. But reserved seats should not be put in the same category as quotas applied to the process of selecting candidates, because the latter merely guarantee presence in the electoral process while the former guarantee presence in a legislative assembly (Meier, 2000).

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Party measures designed to balance electoral lists in terms of fe/male candidates

Last Paragraph:
On the whole, the development of legal and party gender quotas and target figures has been slow but steady. Whereas the first measures established a minimum number for candidates of the under-represented sex, more recent ones prescribe an equal number of fe/male candidates. And whereas initial measures did not touch on eligible list positions, later ones introduced double quotas. Furthermore, many party measures which initially focused on the local or provincial levels were later extended to the other levels as well. This, too, reflects a steady evolution, given that it is easier to apply gender quotas and target figures at the local or provincial level than at others.