Thursday, 28 June 2012

Déjà vu? Gendered membership of French parliamentary committees is a familiar story

The new French parliament has a record number of women deputies, with more than 26% women (compared to 18.5% prior to the election on 17 June 2012).  Has this new feminisation precipitated an end to the traditionally gendered composition of parliamentary committees?  Alas, the answer appears to be no.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Record number of women elected to French Parliament

  France has just elected a record number of women to its parliament.  The number of women deputies now stands at 155, or 26.9%.  This is a dramatic improvement from the previous record of 107, or 18.5%, women elected in 2007.  However, it is still a far cry from parity and is slightly below my original forecast.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Parity in the French parliament?

Will Sunday's elections result in parity in the French parliament?  See my discussion and forecasts of the outcome in my post on the LSE Europe blog:

Monday, 11 June 2012

Royal in the headlines again

  Ségolène Royal is back in the headlines.  The Socialist presidential candidate in 2007, Royal did not contest a parliamentary seat as it would have looked like she did not expect to win the presidency if she had a plan B lined up.  After losing to Nicolas Sarkozy, she focused her efforts on being president of her region and staging her comeback.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Voting à la française

I am in Paris for the first round of the legislative elections. A friend of mine was the returning officer for a local polling station and invited me to come along and observe the vote and the count. I'm glad I accepted; it was a fascinating experience.  While some aspects were very familiar, it seems that the French do things quite differently to the British.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

France gets a parity government – but it’s not a revolution

During the election campaign, François Hollande promised that he would install a parity government, although he added “which is not to say that [women] will have the same responsibilities”.  How true this turned out to be.  He honoured his promise of a parity government, with 50% (9/18) of the members of cabinet being women, and 50% (17/34) of the government being women after all other members were added.  That’s a first for France, and for this reason alone, this is a landmark event for women in French politics that is worthy of celebration.  He also honoured his promise to reinstate a women’s ministry, with its newly appointed minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, holding a cabinet portfolio.  However, women should not be popping the champagne corks just yet.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Hollande wins the French presidency - what next?

Once the Socialists have finished fêting their first presidential victory since Mitterrand’s re-election in 1988, the big questions will need to be asked.  What will be the repercussions of Hollande’s victory for the future of France?  Here, I address five key themes:  the contrast between the outgoing and incoming French leaders; the key figures in Hollande’s presidency; the key domestic and foreign policy implications of a Socialist victory; the implications for the forthcoming legislative elections; and the repercussions for Sarkozy’s UMP party.

Monday, 23 April 2012

The first round is over – now what?

A historic score for a far-right candidate and an incumbent president left battling for political survival – the first round of the French presidential elections was anything but dull.  Here I analyse the first-round results and look forward to how the second round is shaping up.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Could Toulouse turn things around for Sarkozy?

  Prior to the events of Monday, Nicolas Sarkozy was on an upward streak.  Although he is still polling a distant second to François Hollande in the second round, he is steadily eroding the gap in the first round.  The momentum is increasingly with his campaign.  However, with just five weeks to go until the first round of voting, it would take more than just momentum for Sarkozy to nurture any real hopes of winning.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Can Marine le Pen Feminise the Front National?

Marine le Pen is the candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) party in the presidential elections.  She follows in the footsteps of her father, Jean-Marie le Pen, who contested every previous presidential election for the party and succeeded in qualifying to the second round of voting in 2002.  Marine has succeeded in providing a new image for the party – one that is younger and more modern.  Of interest here is whether she has also succeeded in feminising the party.  The traditional FN electorate comprises two men for every woman.  If she wants to repeat her father’s success from 2002, she will need to bring more women voters on board.  The ideal time to do this was 8 March, International Women’s Day, when all French candidates were invited to take a stance on women’s issues.  The positions that she took were fascinating.

Friday, 2 March 2012

François the Feminist? Or Hollande the Hypocrite?

  Six days before International Women’s Day (which the French take seriously), François Hollande assembled his party’s feminists at his campaign headquarters and rolled out his proposals for gender equality.  At first glance, they look pretty impressive.  He’s offering the following:
  • A parity government
  • The reintroduction of a Women’s Rights Ministry
  • The removal of all state funding for parties who do not respect the parity law (by fielding an equal number of men and women candidates for parliamentary elections)
  • Big businesses will have one year to sort out the gender pay gap, or else lose national insurance credits
  • There should be an abortion clinic in every hospital, fully funded by the state
  • There should be more shelters for victims of domestic violence
  • Children should be taught gender equality in schools
  • Secularism (laïcité) is a safeguard of gender equality

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Bayrou’s electoral reforms don’t add up

  François Bayrou is offering a package of electoral reforms that he proposes to submit to the French electorate for approval in the form of a referendum.  The package contains a number of worthy goals designed to modernise and democratise French politics.  The problem is that the goals are not all compatible with each other.  In sum, he forgot to join the dots.

Disproportionate support for proportional representation?

  All four major candidates in the French presidential elections have declared their support for some form of proportional representation in future parliamentary elections.  This is nothing short of remarkable.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Which candidate is best for gender equality?

  The “Equality Laboratory” (Laboratoire de l’Egalité) commissioned a poll of a representative sample of 1186 members of the French public.   The aim was to gauge their opinions concerning the strength of the different French presidential candidates on issues of gender equality.  The results are fascinating, as they indicate a slight disconnect between public perceptions and what the candidates are actually promising.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Women, maids, prostitutes – they all look the same to DSK

  Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) is back in the headlines (and, until his release earlier today, back in police custody) for his inability to keep it in his trousers.  The latest scandal involves his attendance at orgies where he had sex with a number of prostitutes.  The sex parties were paid for on the business accounts of friends of his, as part of the “Carlton affair” that involves businessmen, police officers and a few high profile personalities in a prostitution ring.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

From four-horse race back to two-horse?

In January, four candidates were serious contenders in the first round of the French presidential election.  The long-term front-runner, François Hollande (PS – Socialist party), looked sure to qualify to the second round.  His likely opponent was Nicolas Sarkozy (UMP – centre-right party), the incumbent president.  Chasing at Sarkozy’s heels for second-round qualification were Marine le Pen (FN, far-right National Front party) and François Bayrou (MoDem, the centrist Democratic Movement party).  How did these extra candidates rise so far in the polls, and do they remain a credible threat to Sarkozy?

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Hollande’s three measures to help women in French politics

On Thursday 26 January, François Hollande unveiled his 60 manifesto pledges for the French presidency.  Of particular interest to those concerned with women’s representation is pledge #48.  In a single pledge, he makes no fewer than three promises which have direct significance for women’s representation.  He offers to strengthen the ‘parity’ law (a somewhat ineffective law obliging parties to field 50% women candidates), to introduce a proportional element to parliamentary elections, and to clamp down on multiple office-holding.  All of these promises are potentially beneficial for women.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

End of triple-A, end of Sarkozy?

On 13 January, France lost its triple-A rating from Standard and Poor's, who downgraded France to AA+.  This is bad news for the French economy and a political disaster for Sarkozy, especially as it comes just a few months away from the presidential elections this spring.  It damages Sarkozy’s credibility, benefits his rivals and focuses attention on his weaknesses and away from his strengths.

Welcome to the blog of Dr. Rainbow Murray, political scientist and senior lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London.  I'll be blogging on the French presidential and parliamentary elections, on gender and politics, on British politics, and on any other politics stories that take my fancy.  Hope you enjoy the ride.