MaltaToday Survey | Majority support parliamentary quotas to ensure gender parity

How do people feel about gender quotas? A MaltaToday survey found that a quota law to ensure gender parity in parliament would enjoy widespread support if it did not happen naturally in an election

A quota law to ensure gender parity in parliament if this does not happen naturally in an election, would enjoy widespread support, a MaltaToday survey found.

The figures show that 69.2% of voters agree with a quota law to increase the respective number of men and women in parliament to reach a balance between the two sexes.

Opposition to the idea runs at 24.2%, while 6.6% are unsure.

The government is considering a proposal to introduce a quota system to increase the representation of women in Parliament.

No details have been put forward yet but MaltaToday has reported that a post-election adjustment mechanism could be considered to increase the number of MPs from the under-represented gender to reach a 40% quota.

The survey did not ask about a specific mechanism but whether people agreed with the principle of increasing the number of MPs from the under-represented gender to ensure an equal number of men and women.

The results showed that women were stronger believers with 81% agreeing with a quota system and 13.4% opposed. Men were less enthusiastic but still an absolute majority (58.7%) supported it, while 33.7% disagreed.

Support for the quota system cut across all age groups but the strongest believers in the idea were the young and the elderly.

Among those aged between 18 and 35, 72.8% agreed with a parliamentary quota as did 71.5% of those aged 65 and over. Support among those aged between 36 and 65 ran at more than 64%.

A gender quota for parliament will enjoy support across all regions. Voters in the South-Eastern region were the strongest believers with 79.1% agreeing with the suggestion, while Gozitans reserved the coolest reception for the idea with support running at 53.8%.

Although there does appear to be cross-party agreement with a quota system, Labour Party voters appear to be more enthusiastic than the Nationalist Party electorate.

From those who voted for the PL in the last general election, 78% agreed with a quota system, while the figure dropped to 57.6% among PN 2017 voters.

But while support for a quota law cuts across gender, political allegiance, age groups and regions, not the same can be said for a proposal to force political parties to field a gender-balanced candidate list.

Women agree, men don’t with gender-balanced candidate lists

The survey found that 54.6% of people agreed with a law that would oblige political parties to present a list of election candidates with an equal number of men and women on it.

Opposition to the idea stood at 37.8% and 7.6% were uncertain.

But while an absolute majority of women agreed with the proposal, a relative majority of men disagreed.
The results showed that 66.3% of women agreed with legally-enforced gender-balanced candidate lists, while 28% disagreed. Among men, 44.2% agreed with the idea but 46.5% shot it down.

Support for gender-balanced party lists cut across all age groups but enthusiasm decreased in the older generations.

Among voters aged 18 to 35 and 36 to 50, support for the idea ran at 59.1% and 60.3%, respectively.

This dropped to 50.9% among those aged 51 to 65 and declined further to 45% among those aged over 65.

On a regional basis, the proposal forcing political parties to have an equal number of men and women candidates enjoyed the strongest support in the Northern Harbour and Western regions with agreement running at 60.9% and 60.8%, respectively.

The weakest support for the idea was in Gozo with 44.5% agreeing with gender-balanced lists. But Gozo was also the region with highest number of undecided voters (22%) on the matter.

Something must be done

Irrespective of which system is used to bolster the number of women in parliament, the survey found widespread agreement on the need to have more female MPs.

Asked whether there was a need for much more women parliamentarians than there are today, 76.9% agreed. Disagreement ran at 13%, while 10% were undecided on the matter.

Women voters were stronger believers of the cause with 86.9% agreeing on the need to have more female MPs. Support among men ran at a significantly high 68.1%.

However, while a mere 5.2% of women said there was no need to have more female MPs, opposition among men stood at 20%.

Methodology

The survey was carried out between Friday 22 February and Wednesday 27 February. 598 respondents opted to complete the survey. Stratified random sampling based on gender, region and age was used to replicate the Maltese demographics. The estimated margin of error is 5% for a confidence interval of 95%.

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