‘Giant leap forward’ for gender representation in the Republic of Ireland
Ground breaking news from Ireland over the weekend where a Bill on legislative quotas for the Irish parliament has passed, agreeing measures to improve gender representation in the Dáil which are without precedent in the English speaking world.
The Electoral Amendment (Political Funding) Bill 2011 will halve State funding to parties unless 30% of their candidates at the next general election are women. This figure will rise to 40% at subsequent general elections.
Ireland currently ranks 87 in the world for gender representation in politics with just 15.1% of Irish parliamentarians being women, meaning Ireland lags behind Iraq, Burkina Faso and Turkmenistan.
Last General Election four constituencies (Cork South-West, Kildare South, Limerick and Roscommon-South Leitrim) had no female candidates and one in four constituencies had no woman candidate from one of the three major parties. There were only two constituencies - Dún Laoghaire and Longford-Westmeath, where voters were offered a woman candidate by all three major parties.
The Electoral Reform Society has welcomed the news as a ‘giant leap forward’ for gender representation in the Republic of Ireland. Darren Hughes, Campaigns and Research Director for the Electoral Reform Society said:
Ireland has had to look long and hard at its failure to get women into frontline politics but because Irish parliamentarians have faced up to difficult choices, Ireland is now leading the English speaking world on forward thinking gender policy.
Ireland already has fair votes as a PR system (STV) is used to elect representaives. This means the safe seats that have held women back in the UK simply don’t exist but without female candidates, male dominance has remained a reality for the Dáil.
Now Ireland now has both the system and the political will to achieve a balanced parliament. The House of Commons should take note.”
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