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Are there rules to enforce gender parity at the European elections?

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CheckNews, France

21 March 2019, Updated: 3 April 2019

8 of the 27 countries taking part in the EU elections have introduced quotas, but there is no Europe-wide rule.


As of today, 36.9% of MEPs are women. The figure was 16.3% after the first EU parliamentary elections in 1979. Despite the progress, gender parity is some way off in the European Parliament. Above all, the headline figure hides big disparities between countries: for example, only 16.7% of Cypriot MEPs are women, against fully 69.2% of Finnish ones.


European Parliament graph

As can be seen from the table, there is no general pattern at the European level. European Parliament elections must be by proportional representation, but national laws determine the details of the voting system. In practice there are three different electoral systems used: (1) closed lists, where voters choose a list in which they cannot modify the order of the candidates (France and Germany, for example); (2) lists with preferential voting, where voters may choose candidates (including semi-open lists, where voters may change the order of candidates, and systems with multiple lists); and (3) transferable vote, where individual candidates are ranked by order of preference.


European Parliament graph

Certain countries (8 to be exact) have introduced quotas. But these only concern the composition of party lists, and do not guarantee that the election will result in gender parity. For example, France and Belgium require that each list contains as many female candidates as male ones (in France the law of 11 April 2003 prevails: each list must comprise alternating men and women). Slovenia, Spain and (since 2019) Croatia require that the lists contain at least 40% women. In Poland (since 2014) this threshold is set at 35%; in Portugal at 33%. In Romania the law requires only that no list contain only men, according to a summary by the European Parliament.

Translated by Harry Bowden, VoxEurop

Read the original versionon CheckNews

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