Iceland general election: an accomplishment for women’s politics?

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Iceland’s current ruling coalition were able to increase their majority, in what was at first thought a landmark result for female politics. The recount in the West of Iceland determined that 30 women (reduced from 33) were elected into the Icelandic parliament. Subsequently, women made up 47.6% of all MPs in Iceland; the largest percentage of female representation in Europe (second to that was Sweden who once had 47% of it’s MPs as female). This has seen an increase of six more female MPs which is an outstanding achievement for Icelandic politics.

The incumbents were able to emulate their previous success in the last election; 37 out of 60 seats were won by the three coalition parties. A more meticulous breakdown of the results reveals that:

The centre-right independence party won the largest share of the vote, claiming 16 seats (24.4% of the vote), 7 of which were won by women

The Progressive party experienced an upsurge of 5 seats, claiming 13 seats (17.3% of the vote)

Finally, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir’s party, the Left-Green movement, saw a slump in it’s results, achieving 8 seats (12.6% of the vote).

The parties are now left to negotiate among themselves to agree a suitable coalition that can fulfil the election promises such as bids to tackle climate change in the country. It has been hinted, however, that the existing coalition could be expected to rule for another four year term.

Iceland’s parliamentary results are very telling of the progressive nature of it’s society. In 1961 it became the first country in the world to introduce a gender equal pay scheme. Additionally, in 1980 it became the first nation to elect a female president. These examples suggest that Iceland is paving the way for female participation in politics.

In terms of how Iceland compares to other modern democracies based on it’s level of female representation, it ranks sixth behind Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico and the UAE, with Rwanda topping the charts with 61.3% of it’s parliament made up by female representatives.

To conclude, it would seem that by having nearly 48% of the Althing (Icelandic parliament) consist of female politicians, there is a whole new dynamic in terms of how you approach leadership. This election could show the rest of the Western world how a democracy can be governed with a diverse set of politicians and the issue of gender equality in politics and society in general will be put at the forefront of election campaigns in the future.