Women's Representation in Bulgarian Parliament Rises to 27%, Still Below Recommended Levels

Politics | June 21, 2024, Friday // 12:00|  views

Only 27% of the members in the 50th Bulgarian Parliament are women, but this marks an increase in their numbers. The "Greatness" party has the highest share of women at 46%, while "There Is Such a People" (TISP) has the smallest at 18%. On June 9, 2024, the regular European Parliament elections and the sixth early parliamentary elections in three years were held. Women's representation in the last five parliaments varied slightly above and below 24%, and now it has significantly risen to 27% in the 50th National Assembly. However, Bulgaria will send only 4 women out of 17 mandates to the European Parliament.

In its modern history, Bulgaria has never reached even 30% women representatives, a minimum recommended by the UN Economic and Social Council since 1995, according to the Ekaterina Karavelova Foundation, which has been encouraging women's leadership for eight years.

For the European Parliament, women's participation in party lists was around 30%. None of the leading candidates were women. Of the 17 mandates, only 4 are women: Eva Maydell from GERB, Elena Yoncheva from DPS, Tsvetelina Penkova from BSP, elected via preferential vote, and Rada Laikova from "Revival."

In the 50th National Assembly, women's participation increased from 24% to 27%, largely due to the higher percentage of women elected by the "Greatness" party. Out of 13 seats, 6 women were elected, making up 46% of their parliamentary group. Here's the distribution of women's participation among parties:

  • GERB – 23%
  • Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) – 29%
  • "We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria" (WCC-DB) – 30%
  • "Revival" (Vazrazhdane) – 23%
  • Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) – 26%
  • "There Is Such a People" (TISP) – 18%
  • "Greatness" (Velichie) – 46%

Data from the Central Election Commission (CEC) shows that Gabrovo, Sofia region, and Yambol traditionally do not have any women in parliament, and this is also the case for Haskovo this time. The most women representatives come from Sofia 25 and Dobrich.

There are numerous barriers to equal political participation for women in Bulgaria. It is clear that women are interested in political processes, as they represent half or more of the electorate in some elections. However, the low representation of women in parliament is due to their absence from candidate lists, traditional gender roles, and challenges in balancing work, home, and a political career. Political parties also lack recognition and support for women's issues and development. Systemic factors such as economic inequalities, feminized poverty, discrimination, and gender-based violence further hinder women's political participation.

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Tags: women, Bulgaria, parliament


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