Iceland Almost Got Europe’s 1st Female-majority Parliament, Vote Recount Changed Result

In a major development in support of gender equality, Iceland has elected 33 out of 63 seats in the recently concluded Parliamentary election.

New Delhi: Iceland briefly celebrated the crown of electing a female-majority parliament on Sunday. Earlier, the election results claimed that the women candidates got a 52% vote share in the recently concluded Parliamentary elections. However, after a recount in western Iceland, it has changed the figure by 47.6%. Initial results claimed that the female candidates won 33 out of 63 seats, however, after recounting, it has decreased to 30. Notably, on 25 September, Parliamentary elections were held in Iceland to elect the members of the Althing, the oldest surviving parliament in the world. According to a report by the Associated Press (AP), Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, who has been leading the three parties in the outgoing coalition government, won a total of 37 seats in the elections. In the last election, the coalition government had secured 35 seats. With the Sunday results, it might be possible that the 45-year-old Prime Minister would continue leading the country.

According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an international organisation of national parliaments, Iceland has recorded its name among few countries in Europe that have a majority of female lawmakers. It is worth noting Rwanda, a country in East Africa, has been leading the world with women making up 61 per cent of its Chamber of Deputies, while Cuba, Nicaragua and Mexico were narrowly over the 50 per cent mark. According to IPU, just over a quarter of legislators are women in the world. According to the poll results, women legislators have achieved the milestone despite the poor performance of the left parties in the recently concluded parliamentary elections. The poll results have shown that the female candidates are more often frontrunners.

‘No longer acceptable to ignore gender equality’
Speaking to the Associated Press, Silja Bara Omarsdottir, a political professor at the University of Iceland, said that the recent achievement was a result of gender quotas implemented by left-leaning parties for the past decade. Now, it has created a new norm across Iceland’s political spectrum, added Omarsdottir. “It is no longer acceptable to ignore gender equality when selecting candidates,” she said. Though the opinion polls had predicted a majority for left-leaning parties, the actual results have shown a majority for the centre-right Independence Party.

The party has won sixteen seats of which seven were held by women. Meanwhile, the centrist Progressive Party celebrated the biggest gain, winning 13 seats, five more than last time. Unlike last time, this year, the politics professor said that climate change was the major election agenda in Iceland. According to Iceland’s meteorological department, the country suffered an exceptionally warm summer this year, with 59 days of temperatures above 20 C (68 F) and shrinking glaciers have helped drive global warming up the political agenda.