Press Release

The German Women Lawyers’ Association calls for gender-balanced electoral lists for the 2019 European Parliament elections

Pressemitteilung vom 04.06.2018

The European Parliament (EP) elections will be held in just over a year. Germany currently has 96 seats in the EP, of which only 33.1 percent are held by women. Thus the proportion of women lags behind even the average proportion of women in the EP of 36.1 percent. "The German Women Lawyers’ Association (djb) calls for gender equality in the European Parliament elections", said Prof. Dr. Maria Wersig, President of the djb. "For this to happen, parties must alternate between men and women on electoral lists."

The regional branches of all political parties are already starting to nominate their first candidates for the EP elections. The Greens will alternate candidates by gender on their lists. The Social Democrats and the Left Party will also address gender equality when drawing up their lists. These parties have committed themselves to gender equality by adopting voluntary party quotas, while other parties refuse to contribute to gender democracy.

If the political parties themselves don't internally regulate access requirements in terms of gender equality, the German Federal Government and Parliament are obliged to ensure the equal participation of women in politics nationwide. While Germany’s European Electoral Law does not have an explicit provision in this regard, the corresponding state duties requiring action arise from Articles 4 and 7 of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which is binding on the State Parties and thus, all EU Member States. Articles 21 and 23 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, which aim to eliminate discrimination and ensure substantial equality, also call for this.

By ratifying CEDAW, Germany has expressly committed itself to ensuring that women will not be discriminated against with regard to their eligibility for elections – especially not by antiquated structures within political parties. Electoral gender quotas address these structures. Discriminatory practices in accessing elected office have to be effectively eliminated. The CEDAW Committee has repeatedly called on Germany, most recently again in 2017, to increase the number of women in parliaments at all levels.

Prof. Dr. Maria Wersig explains: "Voluntary commitments of some parties are not enough. The state is obliged to guarantee the full, equal, free and democratic participation of women in political life as a requirement for the full realisation of women's human rights. Democracy only succeeds when its rules do not discriminate."