Election 2015: Celebration or Disappointment?

Parliament_at_Sunset

It’s 10pm on Thursday 7 May 2015 and the polls have now closed in the General Election.

All there is left to do now is wait for the vote count and find out who has won each of the UK’s 650 parliamentary seats.

In numbers, what might this mean for women’s representation in the new House of Commons?

0                The current number of MPs, and therefore women MPs. Technically the country has had no MPs at all since 30 March.

96 (15%)   The number of women MPs the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) is confidently predicting will be elected to the House of Commons. This is based on its list of ‘safe seats’. We’ve gone through this list and found 96 women candidates standing in these safe seats who we can be virtually certain will win.

112 (17%) This adds in the women who are certain to be elected, though we don’t yet know who they will be. These include some seats in Scotland where the SNP and Labour candidates are both women and where we can be sure that one of them will win. This is the same for a number of Conservative/Labour marginal seats and others, such as Brighton Pavilion where, barring all the polls being very wrong, either the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas or Labour’s Purna Sen will win the seat.

142 (22%) The number of women elected in the General Election of 2010.

148 (23%) The number of women MPs at the end of the last parliament. The number rose by six over the course of the parliament due to by-elections.

192 (30%) The number of women MPs the ERS is predicting will win tonight,

257 (40%) The maximum number of women MPs there will be in the new parliament. This is the total number of seats which have at least one woman candidate with a chance of winning, however slim.

393 (60%) Therefore, the minimum number of MPs who will be men.

All of this clearly leads us to the conclusion that, though there might be a significant increase in the number of women MPs tonight, we will still be nowhere near parity.

Will we be delighted if there is a significant increase in the number of women MPs from 22% at the last election to possibly somewhere near 30%? Do we remain disappointed, angered and even more resolved to campaign for equality due to the fact that there will still be more than two male MPs for every one woman in the House of Commons?

We can do both: celebrating the achievement of the women of all parties who are elected tonight and the likely increase in women’s representation, AND resolving to continue campaigning for gender balance in parliament and in many other areas of our national life.

As the results are declared and women are elected to Parliament, we’ll be updating via our twitter feed @FawcettSociety. So please follow us through the night, however long you are planning to stay up. Also add your own comments and catch up again tomorrow morning to see what this election means for women’s representation in the new House of Commons. We will be using the hashtag #GE2015.

And, if you are following us on twitter, please retweet our tweets to your followers. The next 24 hours may not bring us any certainty on who will form the next government but we will know how many women will be MPs and that could be a big story in itself.

 

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