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Women’s Day: EU Parliament, “gender quotas” in 11 countries for May elections

(Brussels) 11 European countries will apply “gender quotas” in the May elections, that is to say, they will ensure gender-balanced electoral lists. In the 2014 elections, quotas were already applied in 8 countries: Belgium and France had imposed equal representation; Slovenia and Spain a gender balance of at least 40%; Portugal of 33%; Poland of 35%; and Romania applied the rule “lists cannot be made up of only people of the same sex”. Other countries will follow suit in the 2019 elections, namely Greece (which has introduced a minimum representation of 30%); and Luxembourg with a 50-50 gender representation and fines for those who do not respect it. Italy, too, will impose gender-balanced lists (candidates of the same gender cannot exceed half of the candidates on the list) and the first two candidates cannot be of the same sex. In 2014, Italy had applied the rule that second and third-preference votes were not counted if voters had chosen only candidates of the same gender. According to information provided by the European Parliament, in those Member States without a legally binding electoral gender quota, “political parties sometimes voluntarily introduce quotas for the nomination of candidates”: increasing “women’s representation progressively is sometimes regarded as more successful than the ‘fast track’ of legislative gender quotas”. This is the case in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands which have large percentages of women in their national parliaments without any quotas.

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