Women make up nearly half of the new Catalan parliament (48.1%) with 65 out of 135 seats, the highest number in history. This came as a result of the fact that after the 14 Februray election, more than half of the candidates who got seats in the Socialists’ Party (PSC), the People’s Party (PP), Esquerra Republicana (ERC) and CUP were female. For Junts per Catalunya (JxCat), En Comú Podem, Ciutadans and Vox the female representation was slightly below half.

The Parliament’s Bureau, which was elected on Friday, has 3 women in its top positions: Laura Borràs as speaker and Anna Caula and Eva Granados as vicepresidents. The other 4 members of the Bureau are men.

17 out of the 33 seats for PSC and ERC are held by women, which constitutes 51% of their total. Around 55% of CUP’s elected representatives are female and PP has the highest percentage, 66.6% (2 out of 3 elected seats). JxCat, En Comú Podem, Ciudadanos and Vox were less representative. Ciudadanos’ gender split is around 50%, JxCat’s seats are 46,9% female, Comú Podem has 37,5% held by women and Vox has just 27.3%, with only 3 out of 11 members being female.

In the last 15 years, there has been an effort to overcome the gender imbalance in politics and get more women into parliament. The Catalan system is a closed-list system, which means the various parties publish a fixed, ordered list of candidates for each constituency. People then vote for the list of candidates put forward by the political parties, rather than choosing a preferred individual candidate. In 2007, a law was passed which meant that at least 40% of each parties’ proposed candidates had to be female.

Greater diversity in frontrunners

However, whilst the law was successful in putting forward more female representatives, in 2017 only one out of six candidates heading up party electoral lists and 39% of politicians elected were women.

This time, greater diversity has also extended to the leadership battle as four of the parties closest to achieving power are headed by women: Laura Borràs (JxCat), Dolors Sabater (CUP-G), Jèssica Albiach (En Comú Podem) and Àngels Chacón (PDeCat), meaning that this year there is a much greater chance than in previous years of the Catalan government being led by a woman.

This marks significant progress since the first Calatan elections to follow the end of the Franco dictatorship, in 1980, when only 7 women were chosen.

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