Iceland Comes Close to Making History by Electing Europe’s First Female-majority Parliament

Iceland Comes Close to Making History by Electing Europe’s First Female-majority Parliament

European Economic Area member Iceland made headlines for a while on Sunday after initial reports on its Saturday’s parliamentary election suggested that the country had elected the first national parliament in the history of Europe where women are the majority.

As the citizens of Iceland voted to elect the new members of their 63-seat legislature, the results reported initially indicated that a total of 33 women have been elected.

This would have turned it into the first parliament with a female majority not just in Iceland but also in Europe.

However, a subsequent vote recount set the number of women elected to the Icelandic parliament at 30, still leaving men in the majority.

That is still a substantial increase in the number of female deputes as in the previous legislature a total of 24 of the 63 members were women.

As of late Sunday evening, Iceland’s National Electoral Commission had not published on its website the results from the election but a recount of the votes yeilded slightly different results, according to state broadcaster RUV, as cited by Reuters.

Data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union shows that that three countries in the world have female majority parliaments: Cuba, Nicaragua, and Rwanda.

In two other countries, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates, both have equal numbers of female and male deputies.

In both Europe and the European Union, two other Nordic countries – Sweden and Finland – have the largest female representation in their parliaments at 47% and 46%, respectively.

A ranking published by the World Economic Forum in March declared Iceland the most gender-equal country in the world for the 12th consecutive year.

Besides increasing the total number of female deputies in Iceland, the 2021 parliamentary election on Saturday saw the governing three-way coalition led by Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir win a majority with a total of 37 out of 63 seats.

It had been forecast to fall short but one of the coalition partners, the center-right Progressive Party, has won five additional seats compared with the previous vote in 2017.

Besides the Progressive Party, the coalition consists also of Jakobsdottir’s Left-Green Movement, and the conservative Independence Party.

All three had vowed before the election to keep up their collaboration if they were to secure a parliamentary majority.

After Saturday’s election, the Independence Party remained the biggest parliamentary force in Iceland with a total of 16 MP seats, same as the result in 2017.

Prime Minister Jakobsdottir’s Left-Green Movement, on the other hand, won only eight seats, three fewer than it got four years ago.

(Photo: Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir in video grab from YouTube)

Ivan Dikov is a Bulgarian journalist and author. He studied political science / international relations and history at Dartmouth College and later in Sofia, in the Eastern Balkans. He’s served for five years as the editor-in-chief of Bulgaria’s largest English-language media – As a freelancer, he has collaborated with media from the US, the UK, Germany, and Australia.

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