MP candidate lists a setback for women in Turkish politics

MP candidate lists a setback for women in Turkish politics


Candidate lists for the snap parliamentary elections on June 24, which will be held together with the presidential election, show a possible regression in women’s representation in Turkey’s Grand National Assembly in the next term.

According to a study carried out by news website Bianet, there are more women on candidate lists compared to previous elections, but fewer are in the upper ranks of the lists with a higher chance of getting elected.

Out of 4,200 candidates from the seven parties entering the election, only 904 of them - or 21.5 percent of the candidates - are women. Only 49 of these women occupy the top places in their constituencies, which means only 5.4 percent of the women candidates are top of their lists. Based on the number of women in the upper ranks of the MP candidate lists, the eventual percentage elected is likely to be below the 14.7 percent of the current parliament (which is already a shameful percentage, putting Turkey in 91th place for gender equality in world parliaments).

In the 87 constituencies that make up Turkey’s 81 provinces, only four women candidates have been placed at the top of the lists by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) and its leader President Tayyip Erdoğan. In the November 2015 election 18 percent of the AK Parti’s candidates were women, while the representation of women in AK Parti seats in the parliament formed after that vote ended up at just 11 percent.

The picture is similar for the main opposition social democratic Republican People’s Party (CHP). In November 2015 some 18 percent of the CHP’s MP candidates were women and the eventual representation was 15.5 percent. The overall rate has now increased to 21 percent, but the majority of these are low on the lists and have very little chance to get elected. CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu put just six women candidates at the top of the lists.

The right-wing İYİ (Good) Party also has six women leading its lists of candidates. The overall percentage of women candidates in the party is 22 and Meral Akşener - its leader and also its presidential candidate – is the only woman leader of a major party.

The highest rate of women in the candidate lists is in the Kurdish problem-focused People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which has 18 women topping its candidate lists. The HDP is followed by 13 women in the nationalist-left wing Vatan Partisi (VP).

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli has named only two women at the top of its MP candidate lists and there is no women leading any list among the candidates of the conservative Felicity (Saadet) Party.

To put it mildly, this is not a good picture.

Social gender equality is a major problem in Turkey affecting all fields, from the judiciary to the state bureaucracy to the private sector. Gender inequality in politics is a different sort of problem, as it involves the highest level of decision-making processes, the legislative and the government.

In order to reach higher standards in Turkey in the economy, in democracy and in social life, gender equality is a must.

June 24 elections,