Female Politicians in the Public Eye

Kheel Center (photographer unknown) * Derivative work by Lyonn Redd || Creative Commons

While more and more women leaders emerge recently all around the world (Theresa May took on the duties of David Cameron as a prime minister after the Brexit referendum, Beata Szydlo became the prime minister of Poland after Ewa Kopacz, Angela Merkel is one of the most powerful leaders of Europe, Hillary Clinton was nominated to be the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party in the USA, Rome and Tokyo elected female mayors – just to mention a few examples), Hungarian politics are still overwhelmingly dominated by men. The country never had a woman as a prime minister or a president, there are no women in the current government and only 10% of members of parliament are women, which is the lowest in the entire European Union. While all countries are far from 50-50 % representation, the situation in Hungary raises questions about the reasons for such a disproportion – and the attitudes of the society can tell a lot about it.

Integrity Lab looked into the attitudes of the Hungarian society towards female politicians by a nation-wide representative research in order to better understand this phenomenon with special regard to the differences between voters of right and left-liberal parties. The questions were whether voters agree or not with the following statements:

  • I would prefer to vote for a party with more women as candidates

  • Left-liberal parties should have a woman as their prime minister candidate in 2018

  • So few women are in the parliament because of their lack of competence to become politicians

Four out of ten Hungarians are more likely to vote for a party which considers it important to have more women as candidates, and 58% of left-liberal voters would agree that left-liberal opposition should have a woman as their prime minister candidate in the next elections in 2018.

Left-Liberal Voters Prefer to Vote for a Party with More Women as Candidates

Only 33-39% of voters of Fidesz and Jobbik answered “yes” to the question about the willingness to vote for a party with more women, compared to 6-7 out of 10 left-liberal voters. This might be related to the fact that there are two times more women in the parliament in left-liberal parties than in the right-wing Fidesz and the far-right Jobbik.

One Fifth of Fidesz Voters Consider Women Not to Be Competent to Be a Politician

84% of Hungarian voters deny the relation between the competence of women to be politicians and the low rate of women in the Parliament: voters of Együtt, PM and MLP are rejecting this claim most unanimously. Fidesz voters think quite differently: 22% of them agree that incompetence of women is the reason of their low presence in the parliament.

Left-Liberal Voters Would Support a Woman as a Prime Minister Candidate

58% of left-liberal voters agreed that their parties should have a woman as a prime minister candidate in 2018: two-third of Együtt, PM and MLP voters, 57% of MSZP voters and half of DK voters thought so.

No Differences Between the Attitudes of Men and Women

Based on our research, there is no significant difference between how men and women see any of these questions. Women were not more likely to support a party with more women. Moreover, their answers were similar to the answers of men regarding the competency of women to be politicians.

Demographic Differences

The results reveal different trends regarding the demographics in the three questions. While there is an obvious correlation between younger age and higher education and rejecting the statement about the incompetence of women, the most supporters of a women as a prime minister candidate and parties with more female candidates were among older people with lower qualification from rural areas.The support for female politicians thus does not have to come from a generally progressive, conscious attitude towards gender equality in politics.

Integrity Lab