Germany: Brandenburg approves law to get more women in parliament | News | DW | 31.01.2019
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Germany: Brandenburg approves law to get more women in parliament

By 2020, political parties in the eastern state of Brandenburg will be required to offer equal numbers of male and female candidates for elections. The law is the first of its kind in Germany.

Lawmakers in the eastern German state of Brandenburg passed a law on Thursday that seeks to boost the number of women in politics.

The so-called "parity law" mandates that political parties in the state must offer as many female as male candidates for elections, starting in the summer of 2020. Parties will also no longer be allowed to select direct candidates for specific constituencies.

The election law revision, which was proposed by the Green party, will not impact Brandenburg's upcoming state parliamentary elections, which are due to take place on September 1 this year.

It's the first time that a gender parity election law has been passed in Germany, although with possible court challenges on the horizon, its future is uncertain.

Read more: Germany needs more women in leadership positions

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100 years of womens' right to vote in Germany

Tackling under-representation

The ultimate goal of the new law is to eventually have equal numbers of male and female lawmakers in future state parliaments.

In Brandenburg's current 88-member parliament, only 35 of the lawmakers are women — the lowest proportion in 28 years.

The under-representation of women goes against the German constitution, which calls for equal democratic participation, the Greens argued in their motion.

The law also received the support of Brandenburg's coalition government of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the Left party.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) as well as the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) voted against the measure, saying that they believe it is unconstitutional.

Two smaller parties have already said they will challenge the new law in Brandenburg's Constitutional Court.

Read more: Gender equality at work could take 'more than 200 years'

CDU party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (Reuters/A. Schmidt)

CDU leader Kramp-Karrenbauer says her party still needs to 'do its homework' when it comes to gender parity in politics

Pushing for 'fair participation'

Although the law received some pushback within Brandenburg, it appeared to gain traction on the federal level.

German Justice Minister Katarina Barley, a member of the SPD, hailed the law as "a big step," adding that she wants similar laws to take effect nationally in Germany.

"Our goal is to reform the electoral law in order to support the fair participation of both sexes in parliament," Barley told the German daily Bild ahead of the decision.

Currently, only 31 percent of the parliamentarians in the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament, are women.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the new head of the CDU, said that she also wants to see more women in parliament and that her party "has to do its homework" on this issue.

"In the context of electoral reform, I am definitely in favor of discussing the issue of women's representation in proportion to their share of the population," she told the German feminist magazine Emma.

rs/ng (AFP, dpa, epd)

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