The main opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) failed to nominate a substantial number of female candidates for the upcoming March 31 local elections, contradicting previous remarks made by party officials that they would boost the role of women in politics. The official candidate lists of Turkey's Supreme Election Board (YSK) yesterday unveiled that the CHP only fielded one woman candidate in 19 metropolitan municipalities and two female candidates in 38 provincial municipalities for the upcoming elections. Accordingly, incumbent Aydın provincial Mayor Özlem Çerçioğlu is re-running as CHP's candidate, while Serpil Saraçoğlu and Tansu Saraç were presented as mayoral candidates respectively in Amasya and Muş.
In January, CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said the CHP would like to increase its number of female mayors. "We need to increase the number of female mayors. The successful mayors will remain in their posts," Kılıçdaroğlu had said.
Despite 33 percent women quotas for mayoral candidates in CHP's bylaw, women mayoral candidates were only nominated in small districts and towns, failing to uphold its promise to increase effective female participation in politics.
In June 24 elections, the CHP scored below the parliamentary average of 17.67 percent, with just 19 female deputies out of 146, amounting to a mere 13 percent. The AK Party's ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), came in close behind the CHP, with five female deputies out of 49, recording a dismal 10 percent female representation rate in Parliament. Former Interior Minister Meral Akşener's then newly formed far-right Good Party (İP) was the worst performer in terms of gender equality and female representation in Parliament, with only 4.4 percent of its 44 lawmaker's women.
The highest number of female deputies were elected from the AK Party and approximately 126 of the total 600 AK Party deputy candidates were women, 53 of them winning spots in the 600-seat Parliament. Women made up 19 percent of its deputies this term, up from its previous 11 percent.
With the AK Party's efforts, female participation in politics has increased dramatically. While only 24 women served in Parliament in 2002, the percentage of women represented in Parliament was 9.1 percent in 2007. This number increased to 14.7 percent, with 81 deputies out of 550 in the Nov. 1, 2015 elections. The number reached its highest level in the June 24, 2018 parliamentary elections, with 103 female deputies taking seats.
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