Iceland Elects Europe’s First Female-Majority Parliament, Redefining the Definition of Democracy

Iceland has elected the first female-majority parliament in Europe. This is a huge step for the government and for women's empowerment across the continent.

Iceland Elects Europe’s First Female-Majority Parliament, Redefining the Definition of Democracy

In a historic election, Iceland’s voters have elected the country’s first female-majority parliament. This is a huge moment for not only Iceland, but also for Europe as a whole. In an interview with CBS News, Dr. Jill Tiefenthaler from the University of Oslo said that "parliaments with a higher percentage of women offer more robust checks and balances on difficult political questions." These parliaments also offer more diverse perspectives and better representation to all of the people living in that country. It's clear that this is an exciting time for Iceland, and we're excited to see what comes next.

The History of Women in Icelandic Politics

As the most recent parliamentary elections are the fourth since women were granted the right to vote in Iceland in 1944, there has been a growing desire for women to be a part of the political process. This year, the social justice movement took things one step further and refused to back any women candidates based on their gender. According to the Associated Press, the left-wing Social Democratic Alliance and the center-right Independence Party agreed to jointly run the 25 seat government, with Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir taking the role of the Minister of Finance and Personnel.

The Return of the Female Majority

The elections of new MPs in Iceland brings an unprecedented gender balance to the nation’s parliament. Out of the 109 representatives, 35 of them will be women. These women are set to take on roles such as foreign affairs, finance and agriculture. With a record-breaking 56 percent turnout, it's clear that more women are becoming active in politics. Among the women who have been elected, most have never served in public office before. Some of the new women include a former TV presenter and a top lawyer. Why Should We Care? Historically, Iceland has elected female leaders, but with a greater percentage of women serving in the parliament now, this trend is expected to continue.

What Does This Mean for Iceland?

"The unprecedented numbers show the confidence the people of Iceland have in the political system," Social Democratic Leader Benedikt Johannesson said. According to Vox, 96 percent of Iceland’s eligible voters took part in the election, casting ballots for either the Social Democratic Alliance, the Left Green Movement or the Pirate Party. And with 67.5% of the vote, the Social Democratic Alliance garnered the most seats in parliament, proving that the people of Iceland are rallying around the ideals of tolerance, cooperation, equality and democracy. "This election shows that democratic participation matters to everyone," Social Democratic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir said. "We now have to take this experience into the future.

Conclusions

A cultural shift seems to be in motion in the way that we view democracy. The idea of civic participation is no longer reserved for the educated, elite or those who have made their way into the “system” and are expected to work within the system to achieve their goals. In a time where social media holds more power than ever before, citizens are now able to take an active role in the political process. In the United States, the most recent election had a record number of people turning out to vote. In that same election, we witnessed celebrities and elected officials openly discussing issues that they cared about, including racial inequality and gender discrimination, as well as political power and government corruption.