Election 2016: Breakdown by sex

The results are in (mostly – as of this posting, counting is still underway in Longford-Westmeath). For the first time, we’ve had a general election in which parties were mandated to field at least 30% women and 30% men. (That last part, understandably, tends to be omitted from political reporting since it won’t change anything). The idea is that by having more female candidates, more women will be elected and thus the Dáil will be more inclusive. Has this worked? Sort of.

(Note: there will be minor rounding errors. Final figures will fall short of 100% due to the Longford-Westmeath count taking so long.)

A total of 550 people ran for a total of 158 seats. Of these, 390 belonged to political parties and their selection was thus influenced by the quotas. 393 men altogether ran for election, of whom 264 were members of political parties. 158 women ran, including 124 party members. There were also 140 independent candidates, comprising 129 men and 34 women. Thus, women made up 26.3% of independent candidates. That’s nearly the quota placed on parties, which is interesting to note given that opponents of the quota system argued that the relative dearth of independent female candidates was evidence the issues keeping women out of government were more systemic and thus a quota would not work.

The thing is, those people aren’t entirely wrong.

71.5% of candidates in total were male; non-independent men made up 48.0% of the total, and non-independent women made up 22.5% of total candidates. Looking solely at party candidates, men made up 67.7%, and women 31.8%.

31.0% of total male candidates were elected, compared with 20.9% of women. When independents are ignored, 39.8% of male candidates and 23.4% of female candidates were elected.

A total of 122 men (105 party, 17 independent) and 33 women (29 party, 4 independent) were elected. Women thus make up 20.9% of the 32nd Dáil, and men 77.2%. 78.4% of party TDs are men, compared with 21.6% who are women. Though this is less than the portion of women that actually ran, it is significantly higher than the proportion of women in the last Dáil, which was 15.2%. This suggests to me that the people of Ireland in general do not have a problem voting for women, and also that those women who did get elected did so on their own merits and not because of quotas. Still, quotas do help to give women a chance to persuade people to vote for them.

Even so, the issues keeping women out of politics are clearly systemic. What can we do to improve representation? Heck if I know.

A couple of other interesting titbits:

  • Kildare South was the only constituency with more women than men running, at 5 vs 4. Despite this, two men and one woman were elected.
  • Conversely, despite fewer women running, more women than men were elected in Dublin Central, Rathdown, Dublin South Central, Meath East, and Offaly.

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