21 March 2017
Equal participation of women and men in political life is an element of democracy and an important goal for Moldova. Despite progress in gender equality, women continue to be significantly under-represented in parliament, government, and local electoral authorities.
The Platform for Gender Equality analyzed the initiative on establishing the uninominal electoral system registered in the Parliament, and concluded not to support this bill, opting for the continuation of the existing proportional system, one that is much friendlier to promoting women and increasing the number of decision-making authorities, by applying the minimum 40% representation rate for both sexes.
The current draft law on the establishment of the uninominal electoral system no.60 of March 14, 2017 does not provide for measures to respect the 40% quota, adopted by law no.71 of April 14, 2016, thus canceling the new affirmative measures adopted in 2016 to ensure gender equality in decision-making. Based on the analysis of experiences with equitable representation of women and men in the member states of the European Union and OECD, representatives of civil society underlined that in fact the proportional system, in combination with quotas stipulated by the current legislation, is the most effective for ensuring de facto gender equality. This should include the introduction of mandatory provisions regarding placement, so that the percentage is applied to each quintile of the list of candidates. It is therefore imperative to ensure gender equality by applying the minimum representation for women and men, adopted by Law no. 71 of 14.04.2016, in the context of Moldova’s international commitments to ensure compliance and implementation of the fundamental principles of democracy and the rule of law.
The legal and institutional systems of a country can have a significant impact on women’s representation in politics. At first glance, neutral factors such as electoral systems can have multiple effects on women’s participation in politics.
Empirical evidence shows that countries applying the proportional system ensure a higher proportion of women in parliament compared to countries with majoritarian electoral systems (uninominal). Structural elements of electoral systems were recognized as factors that influence and affect negatively the representation of women.
Majoritarian systems are not friendly to women candidates. The statistics show that in 2012 women obtained on average only 14% seats in such systems. Because of the “winner takes all” nature of these systems, political parties try to maximize the chances of nominating “the most reliable” candidates. This discourages political parties to select candidates that are “less traditional”, especially women or members of minority groups. Experiences also demonstrate that frequently parties nominate women in constituencies where the their chances of winning are reduced.
The Moldovan (candidates for mayor in large districts), as well as the international experience shows that countries, which apply a majoritarian electoral system have fewer women (and young people) elected. Structural elements of electoral systems were recognized as factors that influence and affect negatively the representation of women.
Internationally quotas are divided into quotas nomination (or quotas input / process) and reserved seats (quotas by results). Application rates nomination is the most common form of ensuring gender equality in majority systems, proportional and mixed. These are ways to recognize the political subjectivity, a sort of “collective subjective right”. This right, however, not exceed the “right of representation”. France and Uzbekistan are two countries who practice nomination quotas in pure uninominal system.
For example, using nomination quotas in France increases the participation of women by approximately 27 %. France has now become an example of applying nomination quotas within the uninominal system. French parity law, adopted in 2000, was a simple innovation designed to encourage political parties to nominate equal numbers of women and men in parliamentary elections. Currently in France, parties that do not have 50% candidates of the same sex are penalized.
Countries applying the proportional system ensure a higher proportion of women in parliament compared to countries with majoritarian electoral systems (uninominal). According to statistics on women’s representation in parliaments for 2017 from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, out of the 10 countries with the highest representation of women in parliament, 6 countries have a proportional electoral system or one that is proportional on 2 levels (PR-II) (Rwanda – 61.3%, Iceland (PR-II) – 47.6%, Sweden – 43.6%, South Africa – 42.1%, Finland – 42%, Ecuador – 38 %), 3 countries have mixed electoral systems (Bolivia – 53.1%, Senegal – 42.7%, Mexico – 42.6%) and only one country has a majoritarian system (Cuba – 48.9%).
It is therefore imperative to ensure gender equality by applying the minimum representation for women and men, adopted by Law no. 71 of 14.04.2016, in the context of Moldova’s international commitments to ensure compliance and implementation of the fundamental principles of democracy and the rule of law.
Within the context of the above, the Platform for Gender Equality does not support this draft law and believes that its adoption will significantly reduce the representation of women in parliament.