Elections in Iceland: Women in the majority in Parliament, a first in Europe

Elections in Iceland: Women in the majority in Parliament, a first in Europe
Credit: Belga

Women will now make up more than half of Iceland’s parliament, a first in Europe, according to the final results of the 25 September legislative elections, published on Sunday.

Of the 63 seats in the Althingi, 33 (52.3%) will be held by women, according to projections based on the final results.

Statistics compiled by the World Bank show that no European country had ever achieved gender parity in parliament until now, with Sweden coming closest: 47% of its parliamentarians are women.

While many of the Icelandic parties set themselves a minimum percentage of female candidates, there is no law in Iceland that imposes quotas for legislative elections, according to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.

At the global level, women make up at least half of the legislature in only five other countries, according to the International Parliamentary Union. Rwanda leads the way, with women making up 61% of its parliamentarians, followed by Cuba (53%), Nicaragua (51%) and Mexico and the United Arab Emirates (50%).

Iceland, which has some 370,000 inhabitants, already has a number of other achievements to its credit in gender equity in the political and social realms.

In 1980, it became the first country to democratically elect a woman as Head of State; in 2018, it adopted a ground-breaking law on equal wages for men and women and, for the past 12 years, it has topped the World Economic Forum’s gender-equality rankings.

The alliance of centre-right, centrist and leftist parties that has been in power for the past four years in Iceland maintained its majority in parliament on Saturday, winning 37 of the 63 seats. However, Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir’s ecological left party lost ground and is now in a fragile position with eight seats.

Its two right-wing allies are now in a stronger position and, on paper, they can form a different coalition with groups other than Mrs. Jakobdottir’s Left Green Party.

The Brussels Times

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