I keep an amateur interest in French politics, particularly in the region that I visit regularly. A story in my local paper, however, made me pay closer attention than usual – the department, I read, has never sent a female representative to parliament.
And while there are supposed to be statutory rules about gender balance of candidates, the conservative UMP is standing no women as main candidates in this month’s elections and only one alternate. (Although they do seem to have one “shared” female lead candidate.) The story above says that they explained they “rely on the experience of the outgoing members to ensure our chances of having elected officials” (these are all my translations, with machine help – I’m not an expert!).
I’m pleased to see that the Greens, when alternates are counted (each post has a main candidate and an alternate standing), have gender balance. Two of the five main candidates are women.
Jérôme Durain, quoted for the Socialists, and identified as a “reformer”, says women “still have difficulties in discussions where the codes are very male”. National Socialist Party policy is for them to have parity – the story doesn’t spell it out, but I’m guessing they haven’t achieved that in this department from the tone.
Oddly the National Front has women as three of its five candidates, despite the fact a rep said it “proposes a traditional vision of the position of women in society”.
The journalist concludes: “if parity is to improve women’s representation in public space, it is not necessarily a guarantee of social progress”.
The paper also ran another story quoting some of the female candidates on their views on the situation.
Isabelle Dechaume (who if I’ve read it right is a joint UMP and Parti radical candidate) says she is always asked how she can hold down a job, look after her children and do politics – but no one asks the men that.
A Socialist candidate, Cécile Untermaier, says women are never allowed to make mistakes, while men are.
A Green, Nicole Eschmann, says that the men stick together and women have to constantly defend their right to equal treatment.
Edith Gueugneau, a Left candidate, says: “Men feel still legitimate while for women more questions arise.”