chapter  6
38 Pages

Towards parity representation in party politics

ByMONICA THRELFALL

In the space of two decades, Spanish women radically repositioned themselves with regards to the political system. At the beginning of the transition to democracy, they were typecast as a conservative bloc,1 a concern for the forces of democracy who feared their political passivity and tendency to make last-minute voting decisions or abstain altogether. Within a few years, this biased image had been dispelled. By the end of the millennium they had not only entered the political system, directed policymaking in a number of spheres, succeeded to elective office and gained many public appointments, but were also demanding full parity of representation with men. If in 1977 women’s hopes centred on scrambling out of the ditch of political exclusion, twenty years later a 28 per cent participation rate in the main legislative chamber of Parliament – comfortably above the European Union average – was no longer a cause for special celebration. By the start of the twenty-first century the political class believed the presence of women in leading posts to be essential to a party’s credibility with the electorate, and women presided over both chambers of Parliament. How were Spanish women able to catch up so quickly and overtake their counterparts in many other countries to end up ranking twelfth in the world?