Reserved political positions

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Several politico-constitutional arrangements use reserved political positions, especially when endeavoring to ensure the rights of minorities or preserving a political balance of power. These arrangements can distort the democratic principle of one man - one vote in order to address special circumstances.

Reserved seats for women, minorities or other segments of society[edit]

Current[edit]

Afghanistan[edit]

The Constitution of Afghanistan guarantees at least 64 delegates to be female in the lower house of the bicameral National Assembly ("The elections law shall adopt measures to attain, through the electorate system, general and fair representation for all the people of the country, and proportionate to the population of very province, on average, at least two females shall be the elected members of the House of People from each province."), while Kuchi nomads elect 10 representatives through a single national constituency. Moreover, "one third of the members (of the House of Elders) shall be appointed by the President, for a five-year term, from amongst experts and experienced personalities, including two members from amongst the impaired and handicapped, as well as two from nomads. The President shall appoint fifty percent of these individuals from amongst women."[1]

Argentina[edit]

The Argentine Constitution requires for a 30% quota for female candidates for Congress.

Bangladesh[edit]

50 seats out of 350 in the Parliament are reserved for women.

Belgium[edit]

The Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region in Belgium includes 17 reserved seats for the Flemish minority, on a total of 89, but there are no separate electorates. All seats in the Belgian Senate (except those for the throne heirs) are allocated to the three linguistic communities: 41 for the Dutch language group, 29 for the French language group, plus one German-speaking Community Senator.[2]

Croatia[edit]

Croatia reserves eight seats from the minorities and five for citizens living abroad in its parliament. There are three seats for Serbs, one for Italians, and a few more for other ethnic groups, where a single representative represents more than one group (e.g. there's only one representative for both Czechs and Slovaks).[3]

Cyprus[edit]

The Republic of Cyprus is full of reserved political positions. Due to its nature of bi-communal republic, certain posts are always appropriated among Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. For example, the president is chosen from the Greek Cypriot community by using separate electoral rolls, whereas the vice president is chosen by the Turkish Cypriot community, using their own separate electoral rolls. Similarly 70% of the parliament are chosen from Greek Cypriots whereas 30% are chosen by the from Turkish Cypriots. In the Supreme Court, there should be one Greek, One Turkish and one neutral foreign judge.

Eritrea[edit]

10 seats out of 105 seats in Parliament are reserved for women.

Fiji[edit]

Fiji provides for the election of specific numbers of Members of Parliament on the basis of three racially-defined constituencies: the indigenous Fijians, the Fijian Indians and the "General" electorate.

Hong Kong and Macau[edit]

Hong Kong and Macau provide for constituencies which represent professional or special interest groups rather than geographical locations. Voters for the members representing these constituencies include both natural persons as well as non-human local entities, including organizations and corporations.

India[edit]

India has seats in the Parliament of the country, State Assemblies, Local Municipal Bodies and Village level institutions reserved for untouchable castes, also called Dalits or Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The election of Untouchables and Tribes candidates is by a Joint or mixed electorate, which includes all castes. Out of 543 constituencies in India's parliament, a total of 131 seats (18.42%) are Reserved or blocked for Representatives from Scheduled Castes(84) and Scheduled Tribes(47) only. This is different from separate electorate practiced in other countries. Two Indian states, Kerala and Bihar, have parliamentary reserved seats for the Anglo-Indian community.

Iran[edit]

Iran reserves a fixed number of seats in the Majlis for certain recognized non-Muslim ethnoreligious groups. To wit, two seats are reserved for the Christian Armenian community, and one seat each is reserved for the Assyrian and Chaldean Catholic, Jewish, and Zoroastrian communities.

Jordan[edit]

Jordan has reserved seats for Christians, Circassians and Bedouins.

Lebanon[edit]

Lebanon specifies the religious affiliation of several of its high officers, such as the President (Maronite), the Prime Minister (Sunni Muslim) and the Parliament's Speaker (Shia Muslim). Every electoral district for the parliamentary elections includes a fixed number of the various religious communities.

Pakistan[edit]

Pakistan reserves a fixed number of parliamentary seats for non-Muslims and women.

Rwanda[edit]

In the Parliament of Rwanda, a minimum of 30% of elected members of the 26-member Senate must be women. In the 80-member Chamber of Deputies, twenty-four of these seats are reserved for women, elected through a joint assembly of local government officials; another three seats are reserved for youth and disabled members.

Partly resulting from this arrangement, 45 female deputies were elected to the Parliament in 2008, making the country the first and only independent country to possess a female majority in its national legislature.

Tanzania[edit]

15 seats out of 255 in the Parliament are reserved for women.

Uganda[edit]

The Ugandan constitution provides for a reserved woman's parliamentary seat from each of the 39 districts.

United Kingdom[edit]

Political parties are permitted to restrict the selection of their candidates in constituencies to a specific gender under the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act 2002; to date, only the Labour Party utilises the law.

Former[edit]

German Democratic Republic[edit]

East Germany reserved seats in the Volkskammer for representatives of women, trade unions and youth organisations.

Greece[edit]

During the 1920s-1930s there was a system of separate electoral curiae for Muslim and Jewish electors in Greece, with reserved seats.[4]

Palestine (British mandate)[edit]

During the British mandate of Palestine at the third election (1931) of the Asefat HaNivharim there were three curiae, for the Ashkenazi Jews, the Sephardi Jews and for the Yemeni Jews.[5][6][7][8]

Palestinian Authority[edit]

While the Palestinian Authority makes no reservations within the Palestinian Legislative Council (there were reserved seats for Christians and Samaritans in the electoral law for the Palestinian general election, 1996), certain positions in local government are guaranteed to certain minority groups, in order to retain particular traditional cultural influence and diversity. For example, the mayor of Bethlehem is required to be a Christian, even though the city itself currently has a Muslim majority.

Syria[edit]

Syria enjoyed an electoral system like Lebanon's, at least for the parliamentary elections, up to 1949, when the subdivisions among each religion were suppressed, then there were only reserved seats for Christians up to 1963, when the Baathist regime suppressed free elections.[9][10][11]

Zimbabwe[edit]

Zimbabwe reserved a fifth of the seats in Parliament for the white minority, until these were abolished by constitutional amendment in 1987.

Reserved seats for expatriates[edit]

See also Overseas constituency

  • Algeria reserves eight of its 382 parliamentary seats for expatriates, many of whom reside in France.
  • Cape Verde has three overseas seats reserved for expatriates
  • Colombia reserves one overseas seat to represent all expatriates
  • Croatia reserves no more than six seats in parliament for expatriates. The number of seats assigned to emigrants is based on participation rates in the election.
  • Ecuador has six parliamentary seats for expatriates
  • France reserves 12 seats in the Senate for expatriates, and 11 seats in the National Assembly.
  • Italy reserves seats in its Parliament for Italian expatriates, with twelve members of the Chamber of Deputies and six in the Senate representing an Overseas constituency.
  • Portugal's Assembly of the Republic has two seats reserved for Portuguese living abroad, one for those living in Europe, the other for those living in other parts of the world.

Floating reserved seats[edit]

  • In Mauritius, the National Assembly consists of 70 members, 62 elected for a five-year term in a constituency in which 3 are elected in the constituencies of Mauritius (mainland) and 2 are elected in the constituency of Rodriques. From 4 up to 8 additional members, known as "best losers" appointed by the Electoral Supervisory Commission "with a view to correct any imbalance in community representation in Parliament".[12]
  • New Zealand reserves a proportion of its parliamentary seats for the representation of persons electing to register on a separate Māori roll. The number of seats depends upon the number of people on the roll — there are currently seven seats. See Māori seats.

Exemption of the election threshold[edit]

In the German Länder Schleswig-Holstein (for the Danish and Frisian minorities) and Brandenburg (for the Sorbian minority) as well as in Poland (for the German minority), Romania (18 recognized minorities) and Serbia, political parties representing recognized ethnic minorities enjoy an exemption from the election threshold.

Quotas inside party lists[edit]

  • Iraq held its first post-Saddam parliamentary elections in January 2005 under an electoral law providing for compulsory integration of women on the candidates lists, like several European countries with a proportional electoral system.

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ Chapter Five - The National Assembly, Constitution of Afghanistan)
  2. ^ The composition of the Senate, Belgian Senate's website
  3. ^ The Right of Members of National Minorities in the Republic of Croatia to Representation in the Croatian Parliament, Croatian Parliament's website
  4. ^ Hersant, Jeanne; Yatropoulos, Nepheli (2008). "Mobilization identitaire et représentation politique des ‘Turcs’ en Thrace occidentale : les élections législatives grecques de mars 2004". European journal of Turkish studies (in French) (Paris: http://www.revues.org/). Retrieved July 31, 2010. 
  5. ^ Fannie Fern Andrews, The Holy Land under mandate, Boston and New York, Houghton Mifflin Company - The Riverside Press Cambridge, 1931, 2 vol. (ch. XIV - Building a Jewish corporate life, vol. II, 1-32)
  6. ^ Moshe Burstein, Self-government of the Jews in Palestine since 1900, Tel Aviv, Hapoel Hatzair, 1934
  7. ^ ESCO Foundation for Palestine, Inc., Palestine. A study of Jewish, Arab and British policies, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1947, 2 vol. (The growth and organization of the Jewish community, vol.II, 404-414)
  8. ^ Jacob C. Hurewitz, The struggle for Palestine, New York, Norton and Company, 1950 (ch. 3 - The political structure of the Yishuv, 38-50)
  9. ^ Albert H. Hourani, Minorities in the Arab World, London, Oxford University Press, 1947 ISBN 0-404-16402-1
  10. ^ Claude Palazzoli, La Syrie - Le rêve et la rupture, Paris, Le Sycomore, 1977 ISBN 2-86262-002-5
  11. ^ Nikolaos van Dam, The Struggle For Power in Syria: Politics and Society Under Asad and the Ba'th Party, London, Croom Helm, 1979 ISBN 1-86064-024-9
  12. ^ Website of the Mauritius Government