The function and meaning of voting can vary across political systems. Despite its diffusion as a norm alongside the global spread of political liberalism in the post-colonial period, women's franchise continues to expose key fault lines in the foundations of democratic theory. Recalling the Third Comintern's debates and activities in the aftermath of World War I, this paper explores how gender organized the left's critiques of bourgeois parliamentarism and its imperial tendencies in the early twentieth century. It draws particular attention to how, in the context of global anti-capitalist and anti-colonial struggles, the woman suffrage issue juxtaposed the promises and premises of bourgeois and proletarian internationalism, the democratic potential and limits of electoral systems and their political alternative, the soviet. From these experiences, this paper highlights the radical challenge that gender poses to the development of alternative democratic imaginations.
- democratic theory
- Voting rights