Open Journal Systems

Women Mayors in Portugal: A Case Study in Political Representation and Citizenship

Maria Antónia de Figueiredo Pires de Almeida


ABSTRACT Introduction: The article presents a historical analysis of the participation of women in Portuguese politics and reveals the positive effects of the introduction of the parity law in 2006. In the 2015 national elections, for the first time one third of the elected the Members of the Portuguese Parliament were women. However, in municipalities there is still a long way to go to reach this level of female political representation. Does the political system limit women’s access only to elected positions? Thus, important questions remain: why are women still a minority in local politics? What obstacles do they encounter? And what can be done to improve the situation? Materials and Methods: For this investigation, data were collected on the electronic pages of municipalities and political parties, as well as in the press, to monitor the evolution of the presence of women in Portuguese local government, initially as members of the administrative commissions appointed to manage municipal councils from 1974 to the first elections that took place on December 12, 1976 and then as elected representatives from 1976 to the latest 2017 local elections, comparing this level with central government. Results: The study of this group reveals higher educational levels and more specialized jobs among women than among men, particularly in teaching and management. There is also discussion of partisan membership and it is revealed that left-wing parties invest more in women for local government than do right-wing parties. Discussion: Although four decades have passed since the democratic regime was established, the representation of women in politics is still incipient. We present some examples of policy actions that can encourage the presence of women in local government and increase their role as active citizens.

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