The issue of quotas in politics is one which causes much discussion – some people do not like quotas, but we like what they do, that is, introduce a short, sharp, shock to the political system that makes change happen quickly. An increasing number of countries globally are introducing gender quotas to improve gender balance with impressive results. Relying on organic change to the Irish political system has resulted in a glacial pace of change, with the current Dail comprising only 23 % women TD’s.
In 2012, the Oireachtas adopted a law obliging political parties to select at least 30% women candidates and 30% men candidates to contest general elections. The threshold rises to 40% from 2023 onwards. If the quota is not met, political parties will lose 50% of the State funding they receive on an annual basis to run their operations. The quota system challenges political parties to develop a culture and selection process that will encourage women to come forward for election. It is also incumbent on the political parties to select women in winnable seats if the true objectives of the quota is to be achieved – that is, improved gender balance in Irish politics.
There are currently no quotas in place for Local Elections (where many politicians begin their political journey), or for the Seanad.
We were delighted that our proposals for quotas were accepted by a large majority of the Citizen Assembly members with 88% in favour of introducing quotas to local and Seanad elections and 75% in favour of financial sanctions for parties who don’t meet the minimum threshold. We will continue to advocate for the full implementation of the recommendations without delay.
For further information on political gender quotas click here: