On July 19, legislation on political party funding and candidate gender quotas was passed in the Dáil. The Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act, 2012 provides for a 30% gender quota for party candidates at the next election, rising to 40% seven years later. Non-compliant parties will risk financial penalties.
Edel Clancy, Chair of the 5050 Group, welcoming the Act said: ‘We commend Minister Phil Hogan for including an electoral gender quota provision in the Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Bill 2011. This development is extremely positive. International research continually shows that candidate gender quotas are a successful contributor to increasing women’s political representation worldwide. We warmly welcome the gender quota proposal as we believe it will contribute significantly to redressing the gender imbalance in Irish politics’.
However,the 5050 Group has called for an extension of gender quotas to local elections. ‘Local government is where politicians ‘cut their cloth’ and gain the experience and profile that aids their candidature for Dáil election. Currently, women account for only 17 per cent of all county councillors. A key problem is that with so few numbers of women in local government, political parties oftentimes do not have ‘experienced’ women politicians to select for Dáil elections. It is vital that a gender quota is extended to local government to ensure a constant supply of women politicians available to contest at national elections. In the absence of legislation, we call on all political parties to publicly commit to running at least 30% women candidates at the 2014 local elections.’
The 30% quota provision is very attainable. UCC academic and member of the 5050 Group Fiona Buckley has calculated that at the 2011 election just one more female party candidate in 38 of the 43 constituencies would have delivered the 30% quota.