Political parties in Turkey are far from ensuring equal gender representation and there are very few female parliamentary candidates in the country, said the Women’s Platform for Equality (EŞİK), an umbrella association for women’s organisations in Turkey, as candidate lists were finalised for the May 14 general elections.
No political party in Turkey applies the zipper method to require 50 percent of candidates to be women and 50 percent to be men, said the platform, and called for it to become a constitutional obligation that the principle of equal representation is met in all elections and appointments.
The umbrella association, representing more than 300 women’s rights groups, criticised those political parties that put forward very few female candidates in lists submitted to the Supreme Electoral Council on Sunday evening, and criticised other parties that artificially increased the proportions of women in their lists to satisfy gender representation figures but then placed most of them at the bottom of the lists where they are unlikely to be elected.
In lists of parliamentary candidates submitted by most political parties, women are rarely placed at the top of the provincial candidate lists and therefore have a low probability of being elected.
The electoral bloc with the highest number of female candidates for parliamentary seats in Turkey is the Labour and Freedom Alliance. The Green Left Party’s provincial candidate lists, which the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) will participate under in elections, has a total of 30 women in first place. The Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) has 28 female candidates at the top of its lists.
“The Green Left Party will take its place in the parliament with the largest female representation,” HDP Co-chair Pervin Buldan said at Tuesday’s meeting to introduce the party’s female candidates to the public.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has 11 female candidates at the top of its lists and the Good Party (İYİP), which is a part of the Nation Alliance, nominated six women in first place in provincial candidate lists.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which women’s organisations have long been criticising citing its policies that have led to a decline in women’s rights and increased violence against women in the country, nominated only four women, while its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), nominated six women in the first place of the provincial lists. The AKP has a total of 113 female parliamentary candidates while MHP has 76.
Meanwhile, AKP’s lists included electoral ally Islamist Free Cause Party’s (Hüda-Par) four male executives, who oppose coeducation, do not believe in equality between men and women, openly state that women should work in specific gender-stereotyped roles, and advocate that divorce should be prevented.
Women make up 153 of the candidates on the CHP list and 145 of İYİP’s candidates.
The Green Left Party has 193 women out of 490 candidates. TİP nominated 161 women out of 398 parliamentary candidates.
However, the number of female Green Left Party candidates will probably increase in the coming days, as the HDP has submitted to the Supreme Electoral Board 110 fewer MPs due to the ongoing closure case against the party. The party will update its candidate list according to the outcome of the case which is expected to be concluded soon.
Last week the HDP said that the Constitutional Court’s rejection to postpone the case until after the elections despite its applications amounted to interference in free and fair elections and informed the court that the party cannot present an oral defence.
On Tuesday, the Constitutional Court asked its rapporteur to complete a report on the case. After the rapporteur’s report, the Constitutional Court panel will convene and make a final decision.