Record-breaking number of women are running in Czech elections this year

The total number of candidates has dropped significantly compared to the last elections, but the proportion of women is the highest ever.

 William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass Published on 25.08.2021 12:38 (updated on 04.10.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

The times they are a-changin’ in Czech politics. Candidates for this October’s crunch general elections include a record proportion of female candidates. Although the total number of people competing for the 200 seats in the Chamber of Deputies has fallen compared to the last election, women now account for over 30 percent of those running.

A total of 5,258 candidates from 22 political parties and movements will contest the 200 seats in the Chamber of Deputies during the election to be held on October 8-9. This number is significantly lower than in the previous election in 2017, when a record 7,539 candidates from 31 parties ran.

Despite the drop in candidates, the share of women competing for a seat in the Czech parliament has this year crossed the 30 percent mark for the first time ever, reaching 31.7 percent compared to 28.6 percent four years ago. In previous elections, it never exceeded the 27 percent mark.

The figures show the Czech Republic approaching the levels of female involvement in politics seen in other European countries. In the UK’s general election held in 2019, 34 percent of all candidates were women. In Germany, the Greens and the Left parties both require that at least 50 percent of their candidates and ministers be women in a bid to boost female representation, while in France, political parties have their funding limited if women do not make up at least 49 percent of their candidates.

In a recent interview with refresher.cz, Czech Green party politician Magdalena Davis said she is in favor of introducing a similar quota system for political parties in the Czech Republic, but that political representation is tied to opportunities for women throughout society.

“There should definitely be a discussion of quotas in relation to decision-making bodies such as Parliament and the Senate,” she said.

“But it starts at an early age and continues through issues such as the gender pay gap: in the Czech Republic there is still a difference of 20 percent in salaries for men and women. It would also be appropriate to change the rules for filling management positions currently working like men’s clubs which women cannot break into,” she added.

Data from the Czech Statistical Office meanwhile shows that the average age of parliamentary candidates has risen by three years, to 49. The average age has been growing steadily in recent elections, suggesting a new preference for experienced candidates. The oldest candidates running this year are teacher Emil Vašíček and architect Gustav Oulehla, both 90 years old.

The Czech political landscape is changing, but there remains some way to go for women in politics. There has never been a female Czech President or Prime Minister, and TOP 09 leader Markéta Pekarová Adamová recently became only the second ever female leader of a Czech parliamentary party. Nonetheless, data for this year’s election suggests things are heading in the right direction.

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