Seanad Elections – Part IV Gender and the Vocational Panels

Adrian Kavanagh, 15 April 2011

Given that elected politicians (county and city councillors, TDs, Senators) for the electorate for the vocational panel elections, it is not surprising that females account for a relatively small proportion of the eligible electors for these panels. For the current contest 16.2% of the Seanad vocational panel electorate are female, increasing to 17.3% when only electors from the main political parties are considered.  Does this have an impact in terms of the relative prospects of females in, first of all, getting nominated to contest the Seanad elections and, secondly, in polling well and winning seats in these contests? A study of voting, and seat, trends for the past three Seanad elections show that female electoral prospects vary, and vary quite significantly, by vocational panel.

In general, the statistics for numbers of female Seanad candidates and for votes won by female candidates in these contesta are relatively similar to the female share of the total (vocational panel) Seanad electorate. Females have accounted for 18.1% of all nominated candidates for the vocational panel contests over the past three elections and also including the present contest (covering the 1997-2011 period), while accounting for slightly smaller percentage (18.1%) of all the candidates representing the major parties in these contests. Female candidates have won 18.0% of all votes cast in Seanad vocational panel elections in the past three contests (1997, 2002 and 2007), while female candidates have won a slightly smaller percentage (17.9%) of votes won by candidates representing the major parties in these contests. Female candidates have won 18.9% of all Seanad seats in the past three contests (1997, 2002 and 2007), with this level increasingly slightly (19.4%) when focusing solely on seats won by candidates representing the major parties in these contests.

  Votes  Candidates Seats
Dublin 28.2 29.7 32.5
Leinster 13.0 16.1 18.2
Munster 15.4 13.8 12.5
Connacht-Ulster 16.8 19.0 16.7

Table 1: Percentage of candidates, votes won and seats won by region accounted for by females over the 1997-2011 period* (does not of course include votes/seats won in 2011!)  

Females from Dublin constituencies fare best in the Seanad elections. As Table 1 above shows, females account for 32.2% of all Dublin-based Seanad candidates (including the present contest) and account for 32.5% of the seats won by Dublin candidates while accounting for 28.2% of all votes won by Dublin Seanad candidates over the past three electoral contests. By contrast, female candidates in Munster only accounted for just 12.5% of all the seats won by candidates hailing from the Muster region.

The breakdown by gender for the different vocational panels is even more striking, while running somewhat against the general trends observed for local and general election contests wherein female prospects of being selected as candidates and of winning seats are seen to increase in line with the number of seats per constituencies.

    Candidates Seats
Culture and Educational 5 27.8% 33.3%
Administrative  7 23.9% 9.5%
Industrial and Commercial 9 15.0% 18.5%
Labour 11 20.5% 21.2%
Agricultural 11 9.9% 9.1%

Table 2: Females as a percentage of total candidates selected for/seats won on vocational panels over the 1997-2011 period* (does not of course include seats won in 2011!) 

Females are decidedly most successful in being selected as candidates to contest, and in winning seats on, the Culture and Educational panel, as Table 2 shows, despite this being (with just five seats) by far the smallest of the five panels. By contrast, while they account for a relatively significant (in comparison with levels for the other panels) number of candidates for the Administrative panel (just under 24%), the success rate of these nominated female candidates on this panel has been relatively disappointing over the past three electoral contests with females accounting for less than one in ten of all successful candidates contesting this panel.  The Labour panel emerged as the second most successful one, after the Culture and Educational panel, for female candidates, who account for jsut over one in five of all candidates nominated to contest this panel and of all successful candidates on this panel. The least successful panel in terms of female representation proves to be the Agricultural panel, wherein females only account for less than one in ten of all nominated candidates and of all seats won on this particular panel.

For the 2011 election, females account for

  • 23.5% of candidates on the Cultural and Educational panel (4 out of 17 – 3 out of the 12 nominated on the “outside”/Nominating Bodies sub-panel and 1 out of the 5 nominated on the “inside”/Oireachtas sub-panel)
  • 3.6% of candidates on the Agricultural panel (1 out of 28 – 0 out of the 18 nominated on the “outside”/Nominating Bodies sub-panel and 1 out of the 10 nominated on the “inside”/Oireachtas sub-panel)
  • 28.6% of candidates on the Labour panel (6 out of 21 – 3 out of the 12 nominated on the “outside”/Nominating Bodies sub-panel and 3 out of the 9 nominated on the “inside”/Oireachtas sub-panel)
  • 25.7% of candidates on the Industrial and Commercial panel (9 out of 35 – 6 out of the 26 nominated on the “outside”/Nominating Bodies sub-panel and 3 out of the 9 nominated on the “inside”/Oireachtas sub-panel)
  • 26.3% of candidates on the Adminstrative panel (5 out of 19 – 3 out of the 10 nominated on the “outside”/Nominating Bodies sub-panel and 2 out of the 9 nominated on the “inside”/Oireachtas sub-panel)
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About Adrian Kavanagh

Lecturer in Maynooth University Department of Geography.
This entry was posted in Candidates, Election data, Gender, Seanad election and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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