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Gender equality highs and lows: a tale of two parliamentary elections from IPU

Following an intense week of elections, the IPU’s two founding members, France and the United Kingdom, have just completed their parliamentary elections.

How have both parliaments fared in terms of gender equality? How do they compare to previous chambers and the IPU’s global average of women in parliament which stood at 26.9% before these latest elections?

In the United Kingdom, provisional numbers show that a record number of women lawmakers were elected to the British lower chamber on 4 July, constituting 41% of MPs overall (263 out of 650). This marks a significant increase from the previous chamber elected in 2019, where women made up 34.8% of the total, according to the IPU’s ranking of women in parliament.

This significant increase can be partly attributed to the winning Labour Party’s electoral success, as they fielded a higher number of female candidates and won a majority of seats. Some 46% of Labour seats are now held by women (188 out of 411), a proportion similar to the Liberal Democrats (33 out of 72). Both parties have voluntary party quotas. In contrast, the Conservative Party has only 24% of female MPs (29 out of 121).

However, across the channel in France, preliminary results from the second round of parliamentary elections on 7 July show a slight decrease in the number of women MPs. Out of the 577 members of the National Assembly, 208 are women, representing around 36%. This is a decline compared to the 2022 chamber, which had 37.3% women, and the 2017 election, which saw a record 39% of French lawmakers in the Assembly who were women.

Among the major blocs in the new Assembly, the left-wing alliance, le Nouveau Front Populaire (NFP) and its allies, have the highest proportion of women at 41.7% (78 out of 187), followed closely by President Macron’s parliamentary group at 41.5% (66 out of 159). The extreme right Rassemblement National (RN) and its allies have 32.4% women (46 out of 142), while the Republicans have 30.8% women.

The IPU is also tracking the average age of the newly elected parliamentarians as part of its mission to rejuvenate parliaments and encourage more young people to enter politics.

It remains to be seen if the French lower chamber will continue to be slightly more youthful than its British counterpart. The average age of French MPs in the 2022 chamber was 49.1 years old compared with 51 years old for the 2019 House of Commons according to IPU data.

For the moment, there are only a few months age gap between the two youngest freshly elected MPs in both countries, British MP Mr. Sam Carling and his French counterpart, Mr. Flavien Termet both of whom are only 22 years old.

IPU Secretariat, Geneva