Addressing the Gender Gap in German Politics
Data from 2021 has shown us that interest in information on politics in Germany has a significant figure of 78%. This statistic is high compared with 63% for women. Though both figures are not relatively alarming, it shows that there is still a gender gap in political participation. This conclusion occurs from an in-depth examination of survey data collected on German adolescents.
To understand this concept, it is vital to understand the difference between institutional, non-institutional, and expressive participation. The results mentioned earlier indicate that regardless of the substantial gender equality, the country still faces type-specific gender differences in Germany. There is a need for resource socialization, attitudinal explanations, and a multivariate regression analysis to understand the reasons for this problem. These statistical tests were used to help identify socialization in civic forms of political participation. The byproduct of these tests provided reasons for women’s lower confidence in their personal and political skills. These barriers to entry often act as significant drivers for gender differences in political engagement. Institutionalized forms of participation amplify this case.
Political players often advocate for parity laws to counter female underrepresentation in the lawmaking chambers of parliament. Currently, in Germany, these laws have been enacted or are being discussed in several German states. Germany’s gender parity history in political participation started early as women gained the right to vote and campaign for election to public office in 1918. This law change had little effect at the time, as female representation in parliament remained under 10%. This figure only improved in 1983 and peaked in 2013 with 36.3% representation of women in parliament. In recent years this figure has declined. The data for 2021 shows that female parliamentarians currently serving the public in the German Bundestag are at a low of 31.4%.
This issue has led to a trickle-down effect in which state ministerial offices lose gender parity. A significant amount of advocacy is taking place to introduce political parity acts at the federal or state level. In 2019 two states in Germany decided to take this crucial first step. Thuringia and Brandenburg were eventually found to have violated the constitution. The decision by state constitutional courts found this move to amend respective voting acts unconstitutional. Since then, several electoral complaints have cited the lack of statutory provisions requiring gender balance. These divisions should be started at the provisional level when nominating candidates for federal elections.
State Parity Laws
The democratic system used to elect leaders in Germany is based on a proportional voting system. This method of running elections combines a candidate-specific vote with a party vote. These two votes are used to allocate the seats in parliament. The power allocation applied to this scenario is established based on the electoral party lists. The electoral body will hand out seats proportionate to each party’s second vote. The Parity Acts in Thuringia and Brandenburg required that leaders be elected with representation from all parties and an equal number of female and male candidates. These candidates will then receive seats because of their inclusion on the electoral party lists. The second vote of the citizen’s grants this authority. The ideal formula for a party list rotates between a man and a woman. Parties can decide which member they wish to put forward first on the list. For smaller parties, this freedom can result in more than one gender being chosen, as the rotation doesn’t occur.
Parity laws suggest that without remaining women or men from among the party members, the party leadership can only submit one more person from the other gender. Citizens registered as a third gender are included in countries such as Germany. This demographic is known as (“diverse”) in the civil registry and allows one to run for office independently of these requirements. It helped to improve women’s political participation by rejecting party lists that did not comply with these gender requirements.
State Constitutional Court Decisions
In a historic ruling on July 15, 2020, the German State Constitutional Court of Thuringia ruled that the Seventh Act to Amend the State Election Act of Thuringia (Parity Act) was unconstitutional. This ruling was then carried over into the case of Brandenburg. This judgment, handed down on October 23, 2020, argued that the Parity Act in Brandenburg was unconstitutional. Those in lawmaking chambers who disagree with parity laws’ fundamentals say they violate the German Basic Law. Their argument mainly rests upon equivalent state constitutions. These key governance pillars require general, accessible, and equal elections to promote effective representation.
The proponents of parity laws argue this policy will promote the actual implementation of equal rights for women and men. Those in favor of Parity laws say that this move would help kickstart the state objective of achieving gender parity in political participation. It will actively mobilize resources to eliminate the disadvantages aspiring female candidates experience when contesting. This barrier elimination leads to positive strides in eliminating the underrepresentation of women.
The ruling against the parity laws in both states contained similar reasoning. The courts responsible for both these rulings agreed that parity acts restricted the voters’ freedom. It takes away their right to influence gender distribution in parliament. This problem occurred due to parties that listed more men or women. Furthermore, parity acts forced political parties to institute equal representation on their party list. This action took away the rights of political parties to organize their affairs according to their bylaws.
The rulings also pointed out that parity laws restrict parties from choosing candidates they feel will help them win voters. This limitation was crucial for governing competitiveness as it limited candidates according to gender. Voting rights guarantee citizens the choice to select more men or women.
The final nail in the coffin against parity laws argued that those chosen to serve in public office were accountable to all people regardless of their gender, interest group, or part of the population.