Voting should represent voter choice, not demography
O Brazil it is one of the worst countries in the world in terms of female representation in politics. despite the women being 51.8% of the population, they hold only 15% of the seats in parliaments. One current has advocated the implementation of gender quotas for Legislative seats. I believe, however, that this kind of affirmative action would be the wrong answer to the question.
reserve chairs for women by law would be to deny the basic principle of democracy: power emanates from the people. It is the choice of citizens that legitimizes the exercise of power. In other words, the vote is sovereign. Only the vote qualifies the representative to exercise an elective mandate.
It should not be the role of the State to interfere in society’s choices to increase female representation.
In Brazil, the electoral system is proportional to open lists. Those with the most votes in each party assume the mandate – regardless of color, age, social class or sex. Representation, therefore, does not mirror demography.
It should not be the role of the State to interfere in society’s choices to increase female representation. Reserving seats for someone who did not obtain the popular vote would interfere with the outcome of the election and deprive the elected party of legitimacy, violating democratic principles.
Before setting quotas, we need to understand why women are not as successful as men in politics. Why do men and women vote less for women than for men?
If everyone is equal before the law, all candidates must have the same conditions. For an electoral contest to be fair, no one demographic group must prevail over the other. The rules of the game must be the same for everyone. This includes equal access to dispute, funding and disclosure.
That’s the core problem. Party structure can hamper the election of women. It is up to the parties to define which women are eligible to participate in the election. In order to change the outcome of the elections, a change in the parties is necessary. Affiliates must fight for rules that ensure candidates are not oranges and have the same support as men.
Unequal campaign funding is another impediment to participation in politics and success in the race. A survey carried out by the Chamber of Deputies showed that when women receive more electoral funds than men, they are more successful.
The electoral fund is divided as the party leaders define, although the 30% mandatory allocation for women is respected. A party, for example, can allocate the maximum amount to a select group of male candidates and divide the female quota equally among women, and none will perform better than their “favorites”. The inequality of the result only reveals the inequality of the competition, which is not fair. Novo, a party that does not use the electoral fund and does not support quotas, had the highest rate of women elected in 2020, 38%. While in the other parties, on average, less than 20% are elected women.
The third point is culture. It is necessary to educate girls so that they have autonomy and security that any position – from party leader to president of the Republic – is for them. Complementarily, educate boys so that they respect and admire them and have the same certainty that they are capable in any role. To complete, educate citizens so that they seek representatives for their ideas and not for their gender.
Adriana Ventura is a federal deputy and professor of management and entrepreneurship at FGV-EAESP.