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Parliamentary elections were held in Sao Tome and Principe on 12th October 2014.The 55-member parliament is Unicameral and uses a proportional system with closed party lists.[1]

It is elected for a four-year term by popular vote. The last parliamentary elections were held in August 2010 and were considered free and fair.[2] In the 2014 elections, the opposition ADI party is said to have won an outright majority, winning 33 of the 55 seats.[3] The ADI party is led by ex-prime minister Patrice Provoada. The MLSTP party came in second with 16 seats, PCD party 5 seats and the UDD won only one seat. Out of 92,790 registered voters, 69,510 (74.91%) turned up to vote.[4]

 

Women’s Political Participation.

Women’s presence in governments is considered an important indicator of equal representation and participation not only for better democratic governance but also within the broader discourse around gender equality.

According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the results from the October 2014 elections show the current number of women in Parliament in Sao Tome and Principe is 10 out of the total 55 members, which is 18.18%.[5] It is important to note that those are the same numbers from the last elections of 2010. Out of a total 55 seats in the National Assembly, women held 10 seats after the August 2010 parliamentary elections.[6]

What this represents in terms of women political participation is not encouraging. It reflects a stay of status quo and shows that much more needs to be done to increase women’s representation.

Sao Tome and Principe does not have quotas and perhaps this is one way that the increase in women’s political participation would be realised. Studies have shown the impact of quotas in increasing women's representation in politics and governance.[7] The UNDP and European Union embarked on a programme in 2010 to support the democratic processes and encourage the participation of women and the youth in Portuguese speaking countries in Africa, which include Sao Tome and Principe.[8] This project has facilitated voter registration, among others, for both male and female and thus can be commended for the high level of voter turn out in these elections.

 

Women’s Political Representation Statistics

   

Women Political Representation

As of 2010

As of 2014

Female Members of Parliament

10/55 (18.8%)

10/55 (18.8%)

 

 

Conclusion:

The results of these elections have put the number of female members of parliament at 18.8%, the same as the last elections in 2010. It is a good thing that the numbers did not go down, but more needs to be done to achieve greater women representation. Therefore, for women’s political empowerment to get firmly reinforced in the country, a stronger political will, genuine regional effort and framework demanding women’s increased role in the political decision making instead of electing ‘token’ women, is required.

 

 

 



[1] IPU PARLINE Database: SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE (National Assembly) Electoral System, http://www.ipu.org/parline-e/reports/2275_B.htm

[4]   IPU PARLINE database: SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE ( National Assembly), Last Elections,   http://www.ipu.org/parline-e/reports/2275_E.htm

[5] IPU PARLINE database: SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE ( National Assembly), Last Elections, http://www.ipu.org/parline-e/reports/2275_E.htm

[6] IPU PARLINE database: SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE (National Assembly) Elections in 2010, http://www.ipu.org/parline-e/reports/arc/2275_10.htm

[7] Rhoda Osei-Afful and Caroline Habbard (2014) ‘Beyond Gender Quotas in African Politics: How to Deliver in Women’s Issues in Africa’. Woodrow Wilson Centre, http://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/beyond-gender-quotas-african-politics-how-to-deliver-womens-issues-africa#field_files

 

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