Context and results from the recent legislative elections in France. GOOD news: France has evolved from 18,90 % of women members of parliament to 26,86 % (+ 8 points!) Here is a link to an interesting article (in French) from “les NouvellesNews” on that topic: http://www.lesnouvellesnews.fr/index.php/civilisation-‐articles-‐section/parite/1968-‐a-‐lassemblee-‐ parite-‐a-‐moitie According to this article, in respect of parity in Parliament, France is still BEHIND.... Afghanistan! « La France passe ainsi de la 20ème à la 9ème place européenne en terme de
représentation des femmes dans la chambre basse du Parlement. Et de la 69ème à la 34ème place mondiale... derrière l'Afghanistan. » It is an interesting time to take stock of the situation regarding women in parliaments in the various European countries. I am shocked at the situation in Estonia and proud of women politicians in Belgium. The situation in France (and Belgium) shows the importance of having well-‐designed laws about parity with built-‐in sanctions. It works for women in politics or women in boards of administration. A bit of historical background: Since 2001 France has a law to force political parties to present equal number of W/M candidates. This law (for once) includes financial sanctions for delinquent parties. ALL parties do NOT respect it (except for “Les Verts”). UMP (Sarkozy’s party) has had up to now the worst behaviour. The Socialist Party (PS) has improved over time but still does not reach the objective, nor do ANY of the other parties, with the single exception of the Green party. In the last legislative elections (yesterday’s results) PS presented 45 % women candidates while UMP presented 26%. All prefer to pay fines rather than respect the law, supposedly because they cannot be unkind to the members of parliament wishing to run for re-‐election. (In France it is possible to hold several elective offices at the same time and there is no time limit for holding an elective position). Taking into consideration all parties (and there are quite a few in France!) there were only about 35% women candidates. The gap between the percentage of women candidates and women elected as members of parliament is NOT due to a lack of competence on their part but to the fact that in addition to not presenting enough women candidates, parties tend to put quite a number of them in “non-‐ winable” districts, for instance a left wing candidate in an traditional conservative area or the opposite. But here the law cannot help, change of mentalities is necessary -‐ or going to list elections instead of voting for individuals. But let’s look at the situation in a positive light:
Already the previous term parliament had had more women members than anytime previously – immediately after the adoption of the 2001 law we moved from 11% women in Parliament to 18% and now we have nearly 27 % -‐ so next time – in 5 years -‐ we have to go for PARITY !! To that end, now we need women in decision making positions in the Parliament. Women president of parliament, heads of political groups, chairs of thematic committees, in charge of the Parliament’s budget, parity in thematic committees, etc. Let’s go for women role models in politics.