Very few women nominated as mayoral candidates in Turkey’s local polls
KA.DER, a women’s rights organization which advocates equal representation of women and men in all fields of life, has criticized Turkish political parties for nominating very few women to run as mayors in the upcoming March 31 local elections.
“The number of female candidates nominated by parties for the March 31 elections has created a total disappointment. Very few women have been nominated as mayoral candidates by the People’s Alliance and Nation Alliance,” KA.DER said in a press release issued on Feb. 6, referring to the electoral alliance between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the one between the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and İYİ (Good) Party, respectively.
Of the 1,297 mayoral candidates that the AKP has announced for across Turkey, only 24 are women, corresponding to a staggeringly low 1.25 percent, according to information the association has gathered from party headquarters and media.
The main opposition CHP, on the other hand, has so far released the names of 842 mayor candidates, only 44 of them are women, corresponding to a mere 5.23 percent.
Of the 750 candidates announced by the MHP, 14 are women, whereas İYİ Party, which is the only political party to have a female leader, has named only five women as mayoral candidates, out of a total 122 names (corresponding to 3.85 percent). The Saadet (Felicity) Party has named only two female candidates for the upcoming elections, making up 0.77 percent of the total 261 names.
This election, the party to have nominated the most female candidates is again the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), putting forward 145 women, out of 290 in total, as mayoral candidates. This makes it 50 percent female representation in the local elections.
“The interest of women in political party membership and politics is increasing day by day, but their visibility in the parties’ decision-making structures and mechanisms is very low. The political figures that overlook women have lost their plausibility and sincerity regarding women issues,” said KA.DER President Nuray Karaoğlu in the press release.
‘Positive discrimination remains unfulfilled’
“The positive discrimination [for women] has again remained unfulfilled,” an academic at the Istanbul-based Altınbaş University has said, also criticizing the number of female mayoral candidates.
“Of the 51 metropolitan municipality mayoral candidates that the CHP has announced, only two are women [Aydın Mayor candidate Özlem Çerçioğlu and Amasya Mayor candidate Arife Serpil Saraçoğlu]. For the district mayoral candidates on the other hand, of the 785 people, only 39 are women. In Istanbul’s 39 districts, there is only one woman candidate. I find CHP chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s statement ‘Women suggest male candidates’ very unfortunate,” said Zeynep Banu Dalaman, the manager of the Research Center on Gender and Women’s Studies at Altınbaş University, in a statement on Feb. 8.
“This is an indicator of how the patriarchal mentality which the CHP harbors is actually far from its social democrat principles. This statement, in a time when women abstain from competing with men in politics, when they go through anxiety of being ill-treated in nomination races, shows how they [women] are right regarding their concerns,” said Dalaman.