The Washington Post has a story today about results from municipal elections in the West Bank last month, the other important elections in the Middle East. A trend in Palestinian elections noted is the rise of women in office, some in conservative communities and with the support of Hamas.
I won't pretend to know the details of Palestinian politics, and so my eye was drawn to a comparison with the U.S.: In the municipal elections, women won 52 of 306 open seats, or 17% of them. Yes, that's a higher proportion than in the House (68 or 15.6%) or Senate (14 or, er, 14%). I think that's wonderful for the Palestinians, and not so great for us.
Yes, there are important institutional differences that contributed to the rise of female candidates there. For one, they used a gender quota for some seats, however the number elected was 2 1/2 times the quota. For another, and certainly more important, for many of the 306 seats they used a party list system which almost always makes it easier to elect women into office than in the single member district system we and and the Westminster world use. Even so, for a democracy as old as ours one would think we could do better. Well, good for them.