What laws exist to ensure women’s representation in Parliament in Senegal?
In Senegal, a parity law ensures party lists include 50 per cent women, which has resulted in 40 per cent of Parliament being women. The absolute parity between men and women in lists was instituted during the July 1, 2012, legislative elections. While the parity law does not reserve seats for women, the law increases the chances for women to be elected to Parliament.
How are these elections structured?
The National Autonomous Electoral Commission (CENA) monitors Senegal’s elections. Although the body is nominally independent, members are appointed by the president on the advice of other public figures. It is also financially dependent on the government. The Ministry of the Interior organizes the elections. Senegal’s Parliament became unicameral, following the elimination of the Senate, for the second time, in 2012. The current parliament thus consists of the National Assembly, with 150 members elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term. For the first time in the history of this institution, an absolute parity between men and women was instituted during the July 1, 2012 legislative elections. The parity has been successful in implementation, in terms of providing 50 percent women candidates on party lists.
Candidates for legislative elections must be at least 25 years old. Provision LO.147 of the
Electoral Code states that the largest departments (administrative units below the region) elect seven members while those with the lowest representation elect at least one member. Elections in the National Assembly are divided into two portions, one group being 90 seats and the other 60 seats. Ninety members are elected through the majority system in the country’s 45 electoral constituencies. The other 60 seats are elected through proportional representation. For this voting system, a national quota is determined by dividing the number of valid ballots cast by the number of seats to be filled. Based on the total number of valid ballots cast, candidates are elected from the relevant lists in proportion to the number of quotas filled. The largest remainder principle is applied, which requires the numbers of votes for each party to be divided by a quota representing the number of votes required for a seat (i.e., typically the total number of votes cast divided by the number of seats). Parties with the largest remainders are each allocated one additional seat until all the seats have been allocated, giving the method its name.