Elections

Explaining the Timing of the French Socialist Party's Gender-Based Quota

in French Politics, Culture & Society
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  • 1 Hollins University
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One characteristic of French political life is the small number of women holding national elective office. From 1944, when women received the vote, until the 2002 legislative elections, the percentage of female members in France’s lower house, the National Assembly, ranged from a low of 1.5 percent in 1958 to a high of 12.9 percent in 2002. Data reveal that the lowest percentage of women in the Senate, France’s upper house, was 1.4 percent in 1975 while the highest percentage was 16.9 percent in 2004. This absence of women from the highest reaches of politics is particularly striking when France is compared to other member states of the European Union. For example, currently women possess approximately 45 percent of legislative seats in Sweden, 32 percent in Germany, 28 percent in Spain and 18 percent in the United Kingdom. 1 In fact, France is often referred to as la lanterne rouge de l’Europe (Europe’s caboose) because the only other country with so few female parliamentarians is Greece.

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