Feminist Quotas for Elections?

Article excerpt


Before the collapse of the Soviet empire, party officials would handpick the candidates for office. Since all the candidates were members of the Communist Party, the outcome of the election was never in doubt.

This way, everyone was happy. The Communist Party could maintain its grip on the workings of government. And the Soviet citizens could believe they had participated in an open and free election.

But when the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, the perverse notion of rigging the elections did not go away. Because just four years later, the Beijing Women's Conference approved a quota policy that women should constitute a minimum of 30 percent of elected officials.

Of course, radical feminists preferred to not use the "Q" word, so they used Orwellian euphemisms like "promoting women's participation in the democratic processes" and "assuring that women's voices are heard."

So now, with a wink and a nod from their United Nations sponsors, feminists around the world are pushing hard for election quotas. Their complaint: Women represent only 14 percent of national elected officials.

In some countries, quotas have been installed by individual political parties. For example in Sweden, the Social Democratic Party began to require that its slate of candidates reflect a 50-50 gender balance.

In France, a constitutional amendment was approved in 2000 requiring that 50 percent of persons nominated by each party be female. In Argentina, 30 percent of candidates on the slate are required by law to be female.

But gender feminists still were not placated, because this strategy still allows the electorate to vote for the person believed to be most qualified - 50 percent female candidates does not necessarily translate into 50 percent female elected officials.

For example in France, after the 2002 National Assembly elections, women held only 12 percent of the national seats, even with the constitutional requirement for half female candidates. …