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Women Candidates in the Electoral Lists of the Parties.   evaluation

Nine hundred eighty-two candidates had been nominated for 65 seats of Yerevan Municipal Council snap elections. Three hundred fifty-six of them or 36.2% were women.  For comparison, the three political forces participating in the previous elections included 32% female candidates in their electoral lists.

 

Three of the 12 Mayoral Candidates Were Women

 

 These elections are unprecedented in terms of female contenders since for the first time three female candidates were competing for Yerevan Mayor’s position. The electoral lists of three out of the twelve participant political forces were headed by women: the RA National Assembly deputy Naira Zohrabyan, the President of Yerkir Tsirani Party Zaruhi Postanjyan and architect Anahit Tarkhanyan. As is well-known, Yerevan has never had female Mayor, and prior to these elections only two women had been nominated for that position (Heghine Bisharyan in 2009 and Zaruhi Postanjyan in 2017).

 

 

The parties have passed the threshold of the 30/70 proportion of sexes in their electoral lists.

 

The proportion of the candidates’ sexes in the party electoral lists during these snap elections to Yerevan Municipal Council was regulated by Point 14 of Article 144 in the section on Transitional Provisions of the current RA Electoral Code, which stipulates, “Until January 1, 2021 during elections to the National Assembly and municipal elections to Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor City Councils, the number of representatives of each sex in the first section of  the national electoral lists of parties, party alliances and parties involved in the alliances starting from the first position in any integer groups of four (1-4, 1-8, 1-12, and this way continually till the end of the list) shall not exceed 75 percent…”

As of the date of the elections, it was not yet clear what changes were envisaged in the Electoral Code in this respect. During the initial discussions of the conceptual framework for electoral legislation reforms, NGOs dealing with women issues had proposed to the Commission on Reforms of Electoral Legislation adjunct to the Prime Minister to improve the 30/70 proportion by fixing 40/60 or 50/50 proportion of sexes, which is more in line with the recommendations defined in international documents. However, the majority of the political forces had reservations about proposals to secure 40/60 proportion of sexes in their electoral lists justifying their position by problems connected with engagement of women’s potential. The Concept and draft of Electoral Legislation Improvements published in October envisage that during the next elections to the National Assembly, as well as elections to Yerevan, Gyumri, and Vanadzor Municipal Councils, the quota secured by Points 83.4, 83.10, and 130.2 of the current Electoral Code, according to which, the 30/70 proportion of sexes in the party lists shall be effective in the upcoming parliamentary elections. 

 

Observing the representation of female candidates in the electoral lists of the twelve parties running in the snap elections to Yerevan Municipal Council from the perspective of improving the gender quota, one can argue that in reality the concerns related to women’s potential are extremely exaggerated. On average, the political forces had nominated 36.2% of female candidates. This is more than the 25% quota defined by the existing Electoral Code and the 30% quota in the proposed changes, which, in essence, can be considered to be a past stage. This fact is an important argument in favor of improving the quota defining the proportion of sexes. Let us note for comparison that during the previous elections the participant political forces had also nominated more than 30% of women candidates in their lists, i.e. 32%.

 

It is a different issue, though, that the political forces participating in the snap elections to Yerevan City Council, manifesting good will and on average nominating 36.2% female candidates in their electoral lists, included 25% female candidates in the first groups of five in the lists, and 30.8% female candidates in the first groups of ten. The first group of five in the electoral list of only one political force out of the twelve participating in the elections, namely of Luys Alliance, includes three women, and only two political forces, namely Yerkir Tsirani and Yerevan Society Alliance, include two women in the first groups of five in their electoral lists.   The remaining political forces preferred to stay within the scope envisioned by law and to include one female candidate in the first group of five, primarily in the fourth position, as it is fixed by law.  Thus, one can conclude that in reality the parties had problems not with the engagement of women, but with their inclusion in the top positions.        

 

Half of the Political Forces Had Nominated 40-50% of Female Candidates

 

 Half of the twelve political forces participating in the elections had nominated 40-50% of female candidates in their electoral lists. The largest number of women, 51%, was nominated by Yerkir Tsirani Party.  The least number of women, 28.8%, was included in the electoral list of My Step Alliance, although at the highest level of power, the necessity of increasing women’s role and participation in decision-making processes was emphasized, and, when discussing changes to the Electoral Code, the Leader of the NA Yelq faction Lena Nazaryan proposed   to define 60/40 proportion of sexes in electoral lists with the purpose of increasing women’s representation.

 

 Women’s representation exceeds 45% in the electoral lists of Yerkir Tsirani (51%) and Orinats Yerkir (45.6%) Parties and Yerevan Society Alliance (45.6%).  These are followed by Heritage (43.7%) and the Reformists (41.3%) Parties and Yerevanians Alliance (41.5%). Women were represented lower than 30% in the electoral lists of My Step Alliance and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

 

 In the first group of ten, the highest number of women candidates, 50%, was included in the electoral lists of Yerevan Society Alliance and the Reformists Party, they were followed by Luys Alliance and Yerkir Tsirani Party, which had 40% women’s representation in their first groups of ten.

 

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