I’ve been waiting for the party lists to appear on the net, and after some searching on the CNE website, I was able to examine the prospects for female representation in the next parliament.
Lists seem to be no more than the “rules of the game,” so with this in mind, some preliminary observations.
Praise to CNRT, which has the highest ratio of potentially electable women. In its top 21, there are 8 women.
UDT is the boldest ‘major’ party, with Sabina da Fonseca as its number 2, following João Carrascalão.
The consequence of the ASDT-PSD coalition is rather surprisingly that three of the top eight on the list are women, and at least Lucia Lobato and Maria da Paixão de Jesus da Costa are likely to be MPs. Lucia is one of the stronger voices representing women and children in Timor, and hopefully will mature over the next term to become a real force in Timorese politics.
PD is the most unimpressive opposition party in terms of female representation with three women in the top 15 on the list.
Fretilin disappoints with only six women in the top 24, which optimistically will be elected. However I believe Fretilin’s list is merely tentative, as many of the women listed were Ministers and would be called to Cabinet positions. For example Aziza Magno of Fretilin has bounced down the list, but if Pessoa, Da Conceição and Boavida once again take cabinet positions, she could be an MP again.
And on the same token, the prominent position of women on the CNRT list could be diminished with changes given cabinet appointments.
With the waning influence of donors and the UN, I am optimistic that women’s representation will continue to be a major concern in elections. For in the end, do we really believe that all the UN noise about ‘gender mainstreaming’ was responsible for the representation of women in parliament? The Timorese leadership, as a whole, believed women’s voices to be fundamental in a just state.
That said, continued pressure must come from the Timorese electorate. Timor already does better than many western democracies, let’s hope that this trend will only deepen in this election.