The campaign of the municipal elections is underway. The vote to elect the mayors and the councils will take place in March. So it is the first time that the law on the parity of men and of women on the electoral lists is going to be applied.

It is the socialist government of Lionel Jospin which has brought in this law. It has to be said that it did not really meet a lot of opposition, everyone being anxious not to displease the ladies who represent, after all, a good half of the electorate.

So, Regin Lesort, candidate of the right in the first electoral district of Lyon, does he welcome this change? In believing in it, the right itself was able to claim paternity too.

Well then, it is obvious that the first thing to do is then to respect the law, and then what’s more, it is then a willingness to be ahead of the text of the law…, organising this parity because what would appear then obvious and then that would correspond to everyday life, then, there wasn’t a place yet for, for waiting for this legal text. The legal text has only made us confirm that we…, what we welcome basically.

Whilst as for the women, they are ready for action as Nadine Gelas says:

For the first time, top of the list in an electoral district in Lyon, in the second electoral district, and … it’s a great experience, I think. At the start, I was a bit worried and panicky, because it was something completely new and then at the same time unexpected for me, and…, now I find that it is an opportunity.

I am a professor at the university Lyon II and I am the director of what we call the University of Fashion. So I do a lot of things for the city, right, not only within the university but for the city in this area, for creativity and for fashion.

So, if everyone was in agreement, why were women not put naturally on the lists. Why was it necessary to legislate? That is the question which we are posing.

Barbara Romagnan explains it to us:

We had well understood that it is not enough to talk, finally we have to say “it is necessary that the parties do it”, except when we say it, we can easily say it, but that changes nothing at all, and really, we could certainly see that… The problem is that if we never do that, nothings happens, and then see say that… we must renew that they there be more equality, that there must be more women elected, we know very well that when someone has a post in power, he stays there at least till we can get rid of him, he does not go of his own accord, because he gets a taste for it, so, yes it was absolutely necessary, there were 50 years while the standards were changing, everything in society was changing excect the situation of women in politics, still five per cent in the Assembly National, still seven per cent of lady mayors in France.

That is also the feeling of Nadine who things the she owes her candidature to the law:

I think that the legislation has been a means of getting things going:

Registered on a socialist party list, Barbara provides an example in more detail, that the law has really changed:

What the law has changed, is that now, when we present lists, we are obliged to present lists with almost as many men as women, otherwise the lists are not valid. So this has the benefit that the parties are really obliged to put as many men as women.

In France, the law does not say there must be a woman, a man, a woman, a man, or even a man, a woman, a man, a woman, but it says… it says that you must have evenness in groups of six, that it to say that the first six…, in the first six, there must be three men and three women, and then, from the seventh to the twelfth, there must also be three men and three women. So that means that… the result is that is not exactly as many men as women elected. This is to say, I am going to take an example to demonstrate, we can have a list where there are, uh, three men and then three women following, then three men, then three women, if there were nine elected then there will be three men and three women, so in the end that will only make thirty per cent, but then, nothing but that, that is to say that that is the worst situation, that is already more than the average that there is up to now, that is to say that the lady municipal councillors in France today are a little more than 21%, so in this way that makes at least thirty per cent. And then there is another positive thing and that is that if there are parties which present first of all their men and then following behind the women, we are in a situation when people say that they want more women in politics that gives a bad picture, so the majority of the lists, in any case the lists of the left which I know, personally I am a candidate in the seventh electoral district, there is a man, then a woman, then a man, then a woman, then a man, then a woman, so there will be as many men as women who will be elected.

Things will happen little by little, even if the last critics of the law deny the abilities of women in politics.

Often there are people who have brought up the problem of competence… we see enough incompetent men to think that there is no reason to think that the women may be more so, after all… We want of course that everyone be competent, but, why do they bring up this question when the women arrive?

The women also have a political conscience. Despite the absence of their own political experience, they have watched their predecessors and dream of keeping a cool head:

Because, later, when we are really involved in action, perhaps we are trapped in a movement which ensures that we become what we have rejected.

Since the recognition of the right to vote for women in France in 1945, the logic of equality is reaching a successful conclusion:

We are realising by our actions, an equality which only used to exist in law.

$Id: 2001_01_act.htm 35 2021-02-12 12:17:35Z alistair $

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