Bosnia election results mean fewer women MPs 

The election results from Bosnia and Herzegovina are in and they ought to cause concern.

Tijana Cvjeticanin
Tijana Cvjeticanin Istinomjer, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Source: Istinomjer
Bosnia election results mean fewer women MPs  - NewsMavens
Women in an a office. Pexels

Why this story matters:

Politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina is still a heavily male-dominated field. Virtually all party leaders are men and the existing 40% quota for women in candidates' lists has done little to nothing in fostering the more meaningful participation of women in politics.

This is especially true for elections at the top two government levels (state and entity). The person who's "carrying" the party's candidate list (the candidate at the first place) is usually the one who will end up in the state or entity parliament if the list is successful. Given that only 16% of lists in these elections had a woman at the first place, it's no surprise that the these three parliaments will have even fewer women MPs in the upcoming term.

Specifically, out of 223 elected seats, only 44 (20%) will be held by women -- a drop of 6% compared with the already low rate we have now. 

A large survey done by USAID BiH in 2016 has shown that perception of female leadership in Bosnia has deteriorated in the course of just one year:

In (...) 2016, almost half of the male respondents (47%) believe that men make better political leaders than women, and men should be elected rather than women. A little over half of female respondents (51%) disagree with this view.

In 2015, however, significantly lower percentages of females (19%) and males (29%) held the opinion of men being better political leaders.  

With political parties offering very few "real" female candidates, the barely useful quota system and the everlasting focus on the ethnic over any other kind of representation, one could say that things aren't changing in Bosnia. But, looking at the numbers, it seems that they are. For the worse.

The count of "women lost" in all three parliaments

  • At the state level, the Parliamentary Assembly's current House of Representatives has 10 female and 32 male MPs. In the next term, there will be only 6 women and 36 men in this legislative body (14% and 86% respectively).
  • Out of those 6, only one woman won the seat by getting the highest number of votes in her electoral district. The other 5 will enter the parliament from their parties' "compensation lists" (a mechanism of redistributing votes based on the party's overall result). 
  • The House of Representatives of the Federation of BiH Parliament currently has 28 female and 70 male MPs. In the next term, there will be 24 women and 74 men in this legislative body (25% and 75% respectively).
  • The National Assembly of Republika Srpska currently has 20 female and 63 male MPs. In the next term, there will be 14 women and 69 men in this legislative body (17% and 83% respectively). 
  • The parliaments at the lower, cantonal level will likely see a somewhat higher number of women. This is because the law requires an "even" distribution of female candidates on the lists (1 in the first 2; 2 in the first 5; 3 in the first 8, etc.) and the candidates' lists are more "passable" at the lower levels (sometimes up to 10 candidates from one list can get elected).

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