Tuesday, 27 October 2009

MMP means more representation

The 2009 social report has some interesting figures of women's representation in the house:

The majority of women elected to Parliament in 2008 were list MPs (54 per cent). List MPs have outnumbered electorate MPs among women elected to Parliament in four of the last five general elections.

New Zealand has considerably higher female representation in national government than Australia (27 per cent), Canada (22 per cent), the United Kingdom (20 per cent) and the United States (17 per cent). Interestingly all these countries have non-proportional electoral systems.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely!! It's worth remembering that when the current abortion legislation was passed, there were 4 women in the House out of a total of 87 MPs. All 4 opposed the legislation. All of them, including a (very) few male allies, pointed this out. In response to one such speech, by Southern Maori's Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan, National's Robert Fenton interrupted with a point of order, arguing that this was irrelevant. "She is giving us nothing more than statistics relating to the ratio of men to women in the House," he said. Which of course,he argued, was not germane to the issue under discussion -- abortion!! Women MUST fight to keep MMP. It's crucial. Sure, there are a lot of anti-feminist women, women opposed to abortion rights, etc., but we need to be fairly represented. We still aren't, but things would likely be a lot worse under FPP. We know that, because they were.

Hugh said...

Do other countries that have proportional representation have similarly higher levels of female participation in government?

Similarly, is female participation in government under proportional systems out of magnitude in comparison to female presence in legislatures? As in, are women getting into cabinets because they're getting into legislatures - or are female legislators more likely to be selected for cabinet positions under proportional representation?

Hugh said...

Anon, while I don't substantially disagree with your point, at least in New Zealand I doubt we would ever go back to the dark days of female representation you have depicted. The number of female MPs was steadily rising prior to MMP being instituted (despite a temporary hiccup in 1990 that was the result of a National Party landslide), and this is probably simply attributed to a general societal comfort with women participating in politics that just didn't exist in the 1970s.

Again, not that I'm disagreeing that there is a link between MMP and female representation, simply that if we did go back to FPP, female representation would probably not revert to 1977 levels (and would probably start rising steadily again - although it'd probably take at least a decade to get to the current point).

Of course, the best way to ensure female representation is to vote for parties based on the number of female candidates they put forward.

The ex-expat said...

Hugh yes PR has a huge impact on the numbers of women in parliament. From the EU parliament:

"There is a strong correlation between the level of female representation and the type of electoral system. [...] On a worldwide level, this pattern is repeated: of the five countries in the world who have 30% or more female parliamentarians in their single or lower house (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands), three have a proportional electoral system, and two have a mixed electoral system (with none having a majoritarian system). Of the eight countries that have 29-25% female M.P.s in their lower or single house (New Zealand, Seychelles, Austria, Germany, Iceland, Argentina, Mozambique and South Africa), all have either proportional or mixed electoral systems (again, none have a majoritarian system). At the lowest worldwide level of female political representation, in those countries with 10% or less women in the lower or single house of Parliament, a far higher proportion have a majoritarian electoral system, with nearly 90% of countries that have no female parliamentarians using a majority system."

Hugh said...

Expat: Please re-read my question. I asked about female representation in government, not parliament.

Bevan11 said...

I would rather we changed to the more proportional system of Single Transferable Vote (STV).
However, I am not sure whether it is worth voting to change the current voting system, as you risk getting FPP back
(I believe it is still possible to vote for change, then in the second referendum to vote for MMP)