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German Elections: of women and communists

by DoDo Thu Oct 13th, 2005 at 09:27:48 AM EST

Hey, if Jérôme can post eye candies, so can I!

This is Sevim Dagdelen, newly elected 30-year-old MP of the Left Party in Germany. She was born to Turkish parents in Duisburg/Germany.

Now for the serious stuff: below I'll look at some interesting details, like small party results, women and ethnic-Turks in parliamentary factions, and the Left Party East/West origins. Update [2005-10-14 8:57:25 by DoDo]: I cleaned up a few smaller and one serious error (women/SPD: I used 2002 numbers...)

Official election result

For a change, with all the small parties above 0.1% included:

  • Participation: 77.65%
  • Invalid votes: 1.57% list votes, 1.77% direct mandate votes
    (below: parties in percentage of valid list votes)
  • CDU/CSU: 35.17%, 226 seats
    - of this CDU (Christian Democrats): 27.78%, 180 seats
    - CSU (Christian Socialists[Bavaria]): 7.39%, 46 seats
  • SPD (Social Democrats): 34.25%, 222 seats
  • FDP (Free Democrats, [market]liberals): 9.83%, 61 seats
  • Linke (Left Party, hard left): 8.71%, 54 seats
  • Grüne (Greens): 8.12%, 51 seats
    all parties in parliament (representation ratio): 96.07% of valid votes, 73.43% of all entitled to vote
  • NPD (National Democrats, far-right): 1.58%
  • Republikaner (Republicans, far-right): 0.563%
  • Graue (Greys, senior party): 0.420%
  • Familie (Family party): 0.406%
  • Tierschutzpartei (Animal protection party): 0.234%
  • PBC (Bible-Faithful Christians): 0.230%

Some regional trends

The far-right NPD fortunately stayed below 5% in all 16 provinces. In Saxony, where at the last provincial elections it got double digits, they had 4.78%. However, strangely, the NPD direct candidates got significantly more votes than the party list: of these votes, their national share was 1.82%, and in Saxony, 4.98%.

The Left Party passed 5% in six out of ten West German regions. The Greens still failed to get 5% in four out of six East German provinces, tough they increased (to above 4%) in all four.

Women in parliamentary factions

  1. Grüne: 56.9% (29/51)
  2. Linke: 48.1% (26/54)
  3. SPD: 36.0% (80/222)
  4. FDP: 26.2% (16/61)
  5. CDU/CSU: 19.5% (45/226)
    - CDU: 20.6% (37/180)
    - CSU: 15.2% (7/46)
    Total: 31.8% (195/614)

Yeah, this is pretty much what you'd expect... maybe the only less obvious part is the low number for the liberals; but as said during the campaign coverage, today's FDP has not much progressive about it... Then again, women in leadership positions are rare - Merkel is an exception to the rule in the CDU, and Renate Künast of the Greens (also outgoing consumer protection minister) is the only other female faction leader.

For comparison, in the US Congress, 15.2% of the House (66/435) and 14% of the Senate (14/100) are women. Even among Democrats, just 21.3% in the House (43/202) and 20.4% in the Senate (9/44); while Republicans 'beat' the Bavarian CSU (just below 10% in both chambers).

Turkish origin

  1. Linke: 3 (5.6%)
  2. Grüne: 1 (2%)
  3. SPD: 1 (0.45%)
  4. FDP, CDU, CSU: 0
    Total: 5 (0.81%)

The average is near the ratio of Turkish-origin German citizens (0.9%). In the Left Party, MPs of Turkish origin have a share even exceeding that in the general population (=citizens+residents; the figure is 3%, of which one quarter is German citizen, and a further quarter was born in Germany but is Turkish citizen.)

Left Party demographics

Is this party really the onetime East German dictatoral communist party (SED) in disguise? I think the numbers show: not really anymore.

  • 30 MPs came from East German constituencies or provincial party lists, 24 from West German ones.
  • However, one East-German-born and ten West-German-born MPs moved since reunification, or were just put on a list elsewhere: hence, only 21 MPs come from the former communist East Germany, and 33 from former West Germany!
  • Six MPs, and three of the East German-born ones, are not older than 31 years - not old enough to have been a Party member.
  • This leaves 18 (a third) old enough for possibly having had tainted themselves, and at least two of them weren't SED members/functionaries.

On the other hand, while I'm not one who thinks membership in the onetime One Party shouls automatically disqualify someone, a generation change would do good.

Just found an official site, the Inter-Planetary Union's, with an actualised list on women's participation in national assemblies. Their number for Germany seems to be an erroneous early number, and they messed up the ranking, but here is the corrected top 20 (second numbers are for upper houses, often unelected):

  1. Rwanda 48.8%/34.6%
  2. Sweden 45.3%
  3. Norway 37.9%
  4. Finland 37.5%
  5. Denmark 36.9%
  6. Netherlands 36.7%/29.3%
  7. Cuba 36.0%
  8. Spain 36.0%/23.2%
  9. Germany 35.2%/18.8%
  10. Costa Rica 32.8%
  11. Mozambique 34.8%
  12. Belgium 34.7%/38.0%
  13. Austria 33.9%/27.4%
  14. Argentina 33.7%/33.3%
  15. South Africa 32.8%/33.3%
  16. New Zealand 32.2%
  17. Iraq 31.5%
  18. Guyana 30.8%
  19. Burundi 30.5%/32.7%
  20. Iceland 30.2%


79th USA 15.2%/14.0%
95th France 12.2%/16.9%
130-131th Hungary (+1 other) 9.1%

9 countries have zero women, most of them not Islamic but small Pacific/Carribean island countries...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Oct 13th, 2005 at 04:15:47 PM EST
Do you have any idea regarding the breakdown by party for women who were directly elected in a constituency as opposed to their placement on that party's list?

I guess it's safe to say that since almost all of the Linke, Greens and FDP members came from the lists, while virtually every CSU member was directly elected, that the answer for those parties is rather obvious, but what about the SPD and CDU, where the direct seats and party list seats were more evenly split?

by The Maven on Fri Oct 14th, 2005 at 12:59:12 PM EST
Uh... I promise I'll do that for the big parties, but that can only be on Monday! (I suspect tough no big difference.)

For the Grüne, the one direct mandate was a man, for the Linke, two of the three direct mandates was female.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Oct 14th, 2005 at 05:35:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As promised:

SPD: of 222 mandates, 145 were directly won. Of these, 46 were women: 31.7%. (List votes: 34/77 = 44.2%.)

CDU: of 180 mandates, 106 were won directly. Of these, jut 16 were women: 15.1%. (List votes: 21/74 = 28.4%.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Oct 17th, 2005 at 04:13:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for looking into this.

So it would seem as though these lower percentages may well represent a slightly more accurate picture regarding the willingness of German voters to actually vote for a female candidate for a specific seat.  Of course, what isn't clear is how many of the women who won direct election did so in districts where they ran against men, versus ones where they were running against another woman (as their principal opponent).  That would obviously require looking at each constituency and would be enormously time-consuming.

Still, it does somewhat surprise me that the CDU, conservative though it may be, had such a low percentage of women on its list.  I would have guessed that in this day and age, a figure closer to 40% would have been expected.

by The Maven on Tue Oct 18th, 2005 at 11:36:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My general (international) impression is that in parliamentary votes of proportional/mixed system democracies, party membership usually counts more than the person  - and thus the candidates' gender matters little for the voter even if s/he happens to be a sexist.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Oct 19th, 2005 at 04:39:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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