Record number of women enters House of Representatives

New face Lisa Mazzone, 27, is now the youngest politician in the House of Representatives Keystone

Never before have so many women been elected to Switzerland’s House of Representatives. Following Sunday’s federal elections, women fill 64 of the chamber’s 200 seats, the highest ratio since women got the vote in 1971. 

This content was published on October 19, 2015 and agencies, and agencies

Four years ago, 58 women were elected, although this figure had risen to 62 by the end of the legislature. 

Nevertheless, women still remain underrepresented in parliament, despite being a slight majority (50.5%) in the general population. 

It is not yet possible to give a breakdown of the Swiss parliament as a whole, since a second round of voting is to be held for the 46-seat Senate next month. 

In the House of Representatives, however, the left-wing Social Democratic Party has the most women: 25 out of its 43 members. 

The 65-person delegation of Sunday’s winners, the conservative right Swiss People’s Party, comprises 11 women. 

For the centre-right Radical Party, the figure is seven out of 27. 

The equality wooden spoon goes to the centre-right Conservative Democratic Party – only one of its six parliamentarians in the House of Representatives is a woman. 

Men and women are equally represented in the Green, Liberal Green and Christian Democratic parties. 

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Regional differences 

Voters in German-speaking Switzerland appear more open to women politicians (a third of those elected are female) than those in the French- and Italian-speaking parts of the country (a quarter). 

With five women out of seven elected candidates, canton Basel Country has the highest proportion of female representatives. 

Twenty-seven-year-old Lisa Mazzone from the Green Party in Geneva is the youngest person – male or female – in the House of Representatives; Bea Heim, a Social Democrat from Solothurn, is the oldest at 69. The average age of women politicians – 48 – is slightly lower than that for men. 

Switzerland’s seven-person cabinet currently comprises three women. This could change during elections on December 9 if parliament thinks the People’s Party deserves a second seat – most likely at the expense of Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, whose centre-right Conservative Democrats slumped from a voter share of 5.4% in 2011 to 4.1%. No women are currently being touted as possible replacements.

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