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Czech NGO says most women ever running in local elections

Prague, 23.9.2014 22:13, (ROMEA)
Czech Senator Eliška Wagnerová. (Photo:   František Kostlán)
Czech Senator Eliška Wagnerová. (Photo: František Kostlán)

The representation of women in local politics is expected to slightly rise after the elections. The most women ever in the history of the Czech Republic - 32.23 % - are candidates.

Twenty years after the first local elections were held in an independent Czech Republic, the number of women running has doubled. By comparison the Senate elections still remain a "gentlemen's league".  

Most (69 %) of the 47 parties fielding candidates have exclusively nominated men. In the Senate it is most probable that even fewer women will be seated.  

An analysis of candidate lists for the local elections and nominations to the Senate has been performed by Fórum 50 %, a nonprofit organization striving for balanced representation of men and women in politics. "Since 1994 the total number of persons running at local level has undergone stable growth, from 159 479 candidates to 211 555 today, i.e., an increase of roughly one-fourth. Back then not quite 22 % of the candidates were women, while today more than 32 % are. The number of women running, therefore, has more than doubled, from 31 394 in 1994 to 68 186 today," comments Fórum 50 %'s director Jana Smiggels Kavková, who is a political scientist.  

Of the parties running in most of the country's main cities, the Green Party has nominated the most women (including in the coalitions its candidates are running in). The most women in electable positions (up to number 10 on the list) are being fielded by ANO 2011.  

The Svobodní party has the fewest women overall in electable positions, as it has no female leaders. Of all of the major cities, Karviná has the most women running (38.5 %), while Karlovy Vary has the least (27.4 %).  

The most women running at the top of candidate lists are in the town of Most, where six of the 14 political parties are led by women. "Local politics are closest to the people, women often consider them meaningful and they do not involve the problems of commuting or moving that an engagement in higher politics does. At the same, at local level a greater role is played by independent groups and small parties where women can better enforce their decisions than in the big established parties. People often know specific women candidates personally and support them. It is already understood as customary and natural to have a woman mayor, while for the time being we aren't much able to imagine a woman president or prime minister," explains Kavková.  

Her words are borne out by the current nominations for Senate candidates. Compared to 2012, the overall proportion of women nominated to run for the upper house has fallen from 18 % to 15.2 %.

In four electoral districts only men are running (Česká Lípa, Cheb, Příbram and Vyškov). Of the parties currently in Parliament, ANO 2011 has nominated the most women and TOP 09 has nominated the least.

The representation of women in the Czech Senate is 17.3 % today and will probably fall after the elections. Fórum 50 % has initiated a campaign to support all women candidates during the upcoming vote.  

"While we find most women running at local level, their representation there is a mere 25 % overall compared to the 50 % female population who actually live in those municipalities. That is why we have chosen the slogan 'We live here together, let's decide together' for our campaign. We would like to pass at least the critical 30 % threshold that must be exceeded for women to start being heard and seen more in politics," says campaign coordinator Marcela Adamusová.  

Fórum 50 % will visit 14 Czech towns and hold four debates in Brno, Hradec Králové, Liberec and Prague. The NGO has also designed an animated video for voters showing how political decisions affect men and women differently. 

fk, Fórum 50 %, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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