Irish political parties are set to find their state funding halved if they fail to run 30% women candidates in parliamentary elections; this will rise to 40% after 7 years.
The new Electoral Amendment Political Funding Bill 2011 (published today) will, if passed, compel political parties to field 30% male and 30% female candidates on every list. Ireland has a PR system rather than the first past the post method still used in the UK.
Parties which fail to achieve the mandatory level for either gender will lose half of their state funding - a significant penalty given that the Bill also limits corporate and other donations.
The government minister responsible for the Bill, Phil Hogan TD, says that 'This initiative is a groundbreaking political opportunity to incentivise a shift towards gender balance in Irish politics. I have received legal advice in respect of these intended provisions and don’t envisage any constitutional difficulties arising.'
At present, 85% of members of the Irish Parliament (the Dáil Éireann) are men. Ireland has multi rather than single member constituencies and in 21 of these there are no women MPs (TDs) at all.
The Irish legislation follows the model used in Spain, where the requited level for both genders is 40%, and is the system advocated by the Centre for Women & Democracy.
More information can be found on the Irish Department of the Environment page here http://www.environ.ie/en/LocalGovernment/Voting/News/MainBody,29019,en.htm