07/05/2019

Less than representative democracy

“We have set the course towards a fairer Spain,” Pedro Sánchez, the country’s recently re-elected prime minister, recently told supporters. As measured by the representation of women in politics this is certainly true. Spain has become a force for gender parity in politics since Mr Sánchez was first elected prime minister in June 2018. Last year he unveiled the most female-heavy cabinet in Europe, filling more than half of the top jobs with women.

There are signs of progress in the Spanish parliament, too. At the general election on April 28th an additional 26 women won seats, taking female representation to 47%, up from 41% in 2018. As a result Spain has overtaken Sweden and Finland to take the crown as the most female parliament in the EU.

The EU is a long way from achieving equal gender representation in politics. The average share of women in parliaments is a paltry 32%, albeit an improvement on 24% a decade ago. That may compare favourably with the global average of 24%, but some European countries, particularly in the east, are lagging far behind. In Hungary only 13% of parliamentarians are women.

Mr Sánchez can take much credit for accelerating Spain’s feminist development; 52% of the newly elected members of parliament for his Socialist party are women. But the course was set much earlier, by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, a previous Socialist prime minister. He introduced gender quotas, requiring women to make up not less than 40% (though not more than 60%) of Socialist party lists in the election of 2008.

This article is from our Graphic detaill blog.