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Thursday, 13 March 2014

Local elections in France - the problem of gender parity

One of the new features in the upcoming local elections is that in every town and village of more than 1,000 inhabitants, all lists must contain an equal number of men and women.

It's part of drive to have more women involved in politics at a local level and a decision to be applauded (depending on your opinion of course).

But at the same time it has also presented a problem in a number of villages throughout France such as Pérouges (population of just over 1,200) in the département of Ain, where the current mayor, Paul Vernay has had a hard job persuading enough women to join his Socialist Party - Europe Écologie Les Verts (EELV or Greens) list in his attempt to be re-elected.

"The answers I have come up against from women have included the lack of time to devote to local matters, or some of them simply don't feel they would be competent enough," he said.

"And then there are others who don't want to get involved in politics."

But it's not just small villages which have run into problems on the gender parity requirement.

The Green party in one of France's biggest cities has also had to rejig its list - because of an initial oversight.

Antoine Maurice (screenshot Le Journal du Dimanche video report)

Antoine Maurice is the EELV candidate for the city of Toulouse. At 31st position on Maurice's list (so with little or no real chance of being elected) up until a few weeks ago was a certain Florence Bertocchio, a 54-year-old engineer who has been living as a transgender woman for the past five years and is a spokesperson for the LGBT rights group in the city.

Bertocchio had her civil status changed from man to woman in December 2012, a decision made formal in July 2013 but somehow the Greens had got into something of a muddle and actually given her a position on the official list which had been "reserved" for a man.

Florence Bertocchio (screenshot Le Journal du Dimanche video report)

When Maurice was made aware of the "mistake" he said correcting it would just be a matter of "moving things around a little" - in other words shifting Bertocchio one position up the list and dropping another woman and bringing in an extra man.

"It's really a chance for us to emphasise how our list is the most diverse," he said.

"It's one that includes men, women, gays and trans."

VidéoVilles : Florence Bertocchio, candidate et... par lejdd

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