Recent major surveys of the Scottish electorate and of Scottish National Party (SNP) members have revealed a distinct gender gap in support for the party. Men are markedly more likely than women to vote for the SNP and they comprise more than two-thirds of its membership. In this article, we use data from those surveys to test various possible explanations for the disproportionately male support for the SNP. While popular accounts have focused on the gendered appeal of recent leaders and on the party’s fluctuating efforts at achieving gender equality in its parliamentary representation, we find much stronger support for a different explanation. Women are less inclined to support and to join the SNP because they are markedly less supportive of its central objective of independence for Scotland. Since men and women barely differ in their reported national identities, the origins of this gender gap in support for independence presents a puzzle for further research.
- membership composition
- nationalist parties