Scotland 2016: mixed results for women but no gain overall

Results are reported for the Scottish parliament election of 2016. According to Holyrood.com the percentage of women in the new parliament is 34.9%. This is no better than the result in the previous election in 2011 and it is worse than the 1999 and 2003 election results. The Scottish parliament has already produced this fact sheet on women in the new parliament.

The Holyrood.com chart shows the effect of when parties decide whether to field female candidates or not. For each party the percentage of females elected are SNP - 43%; Labor - 46%; Cons - 19%; Green - 17%; and Lib - 0%.

The results demonstrate the importance of both party policies and proportional representation in getting women into parliament. All but one of the women elected for the Conservative party and for the Labor party are shown as entering parliament as regional list MSPs. This is because the Scottish parliament is made up of constituency seats and regional list seats. 

Overall, we need to reflect on the barriers to women entering government as well as entering parliament.

  • The gender policies of the SNP and Labor have clearly worked for those parties. 
  • However, a simple count of women in the parliament does not give an indication of the empowerment of women in the legislature.
  • The fielding of more female candidates is a poor measure of empowerment.
  • The voter turnout is reported by the BBC to have varied by constituency in Scotland from between 42,9 to 68.3 percent. It is important to understand the role of gender issues in voter turn-out. Australia in contrast has compulsory voting.

The 5050 model we propose is a guarantee of equal representation which empowers the electorate not the parties.