The new Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales elected in May 1999 were notable for the high levels of women's representation amongst their membership. This article examines the decisions taken by the main political parties about candidate selection and specifically the promotion of women candidates, exploring some of the inter and intra party dynamics influencing this result. The most significant changes were achieved in those parties that adopted rigid policies of positive action in favour of women. The decisions to adopt such systems were influenced by party ideology, degree of centralised leadership control and presence of women in positions of power within party elites. The environment in which such measures were considered was also highly influenced by the new electoral system and the presence of women activists in the design of the new institutions, particularly in Scotland. Together, these factors made women's representation a central feature in party competition.