When Angela Merkel retired in December 2021 as second-longest serving German chancellor, she looked back to 16 years of crises, struggles, but also profound societal changes. The fact that she was the first woman to win this office hardly played a role in the public and political retrospectives, yet it mattered when she ran — and won — against then-incumbent Gerhard Schröder (SPD) in 2005. With a woman as head of government, many hoped (or feared) significant progress in the areas of gender equality, norms regarding women’s place in society, the prosecution of sexualized violence, sexism etc. Rather than the consistently positive developments anticipated, contributors have noticed a rising backlash against norms of gender equality, increase in misogyny in the public sphere and stalled progress on women’s issues worldwide, but also in Germany. These developments have sparked a renewed interest in sexism as an explanation for (political) attitudes and behaviors. For instance, hostile sexism is related to support for former US-President Trump, as well as lower levels of competence attribution to female candidates. The context of the 2021 Bundestag election in Germany offers an unprecedented opportunity to investigate the salience of these attitudes on voting behavior. Of importance, one of the political parties' top-list candidates (Annalena Baerbock, The Greens) elicited some backlash involving stereotypes against agentic women. Such a hostile response to her nomination is perplexing considering that her own party has been one of the most outspoken on gender issues. Our paper will examine the interrelation of sexism, vote choice and candidate sympathy. To do so, we employ novel data that was collected via an online survey directly following the general elections tapping into different manifestations of sexism, ranging from benevolent forms to outright hostile attitudes. We expect an interplay between benevolent and hostile sexism and vote choice.
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