New Parliament Will Have Just 12 Percent of Female MPs

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The number of female MPs has not been lower since the 1990s.

After Sunday’s elections, the new Parliament will have the least number of female MPs since the 1990s. Of the total of 151 MPs, only about 12 percent will be female MPs. Political scientist Tajana Broz from the Centre for Education, Counselling and Research claims that this is a consequence of situation within political parties themselves, reports on September 13, 2016.

The under-representation of women in Parliament was seen after last year’s parliamentary elections as well, when the number of elected female MPs was the smallest in years – just 15 percent. However, ten months later and after another parliamentary elections, the situation is even worse. After the State Election Commission announced the results from all precincts, it became clear that only 20 female MPs have been directly elected. Most of them belong to the SDP-led People’s Coalition (11), followed by HDZ (5), MOST (2) and Živi Zid (1). Ermina Lekaj Prljaskaj has been elected as a representative of national minorities.

“The number of elected women is the lowest since the 1990s. Only about 12 percent have been elected directly, which means that we are going backwards instead of forwards. The percentage is likely to increase somewhat after some of male MPs move to the executive branch, but we are unlikely to reach 20 percent. Party elites simply did not care for gender equality and they placed women at the bottom of candidate lists. We can introduce even stricter quotas, but there is no real understanding why equal political participation of women is so important”, said Broz.

Among MPs elected with the highest number of individual preferential votes, men are also far ahead. In fact, only two women have managed to enter the top 10, Milanka Opačić (SDP), who is at the sixth place by the number of preferential votes, and Anka Mrak Taritaš (HNS) who is ninth. “I believe that the key issue is that parties do not try to promote women within their ranks. Some individual female politicians manage to get through, but they do it without the help from their parties”, said Broz.

At the Sunday’s early parliamentary elections, as many as 54 out of 177 candidate lists violated a provision that they must include at least 40 percent of women candidates. That included the two largest parties, SDP and HDZ. It will be interesting to see whether the parties will be fined, and also how the new government will look like when it comes to gender equality.

As for parliaments in other countries, the global average is 22.8 percent of female MPs, while in Europe that average stands at 25.7 percent. The highest average representation of women exists in Nordic parliaments (41.1 percent), and the lowest is in Pacific parliaments (13.4 percent).


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