Vote recount disrupts landmark victory for female lawmakers in Iceland

A recount of Iceland’s parliamentary election has caused upset after it dashed hopes of a landmark victory for female lawmakers.

Initial vote counts revealed that female candidates were elected to 33-seats in Iceland’s national parliament, making up 52% of the total seat count.

“In a historical and international light, the most significant news is that women are now first time in majority in the Icelandic parliament, and a first in Europe,” President Gudni Johannesson told broadcaster RUV. “This is good news.” 

image credit: BBC

However, the cause for celebration was soon diminished.

Hours later, a partial recount was called after concerns were raised over the number of ballots submitted. The recount revealed that in fact only 30-seats were won by female candidates, reflecting almost 48% of parliament.

Human error was apparently the cause of the confusion.

The recounted figures still cement Iceland as the European nation that is closest to a female-majority parliament. Following close behind is Sweden, with 47% female politicians.

Currently, no European nation has reached 50% gender parity

Rwanda leads the world with women making up 61% of elected positions. This is followed by Cuba, Mexico and Nicaragua all reporting gender parity at or above 50%.

In relative terms, Australia has just under 38% of women holding parliament positions.

Iceland has a decorated history of equal and fair treatment of female lawmakers. They have been identified by a World Economic Forum survey as the most gender-equal country in the world for twelve years running.

In 1980, Iceland became the first country in the world to elect a female president.

The North Atlantic nation missed out on another landmark election result when it overturned the victory of 21-year-old female candidate Lenya Run Karim. Ms Karim would have been the youngest politician ever to be elected in Iceland.

“These were a good nine hours,” Ms Karim remarked on the situation.