Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dialing Down Gender Equality

Mexico's Supreme Court has ruled that a 30 percent quota for state and municipal elections is constitutional, despite the 40 percent rule for federal legislative elections. While the decision surely isn't a giant leap for Mexican women, I'm not sure it's a bad thing, either. (Or maybe I'm just inclined to give the Court the benefit of the doubt, given its recent performance.) Thirty percent is a pretty healthy number, and the primary obstacle to an effective quota system lies not in the difference between 30 and 40 percent, but in the political parties' tendency to skip around the quota laws through running women in hopeless races and substituting male alternates for the victorious female candidate after the election. (Hence the inconvenient fact that, candidates aside, the number of female legislators remains well below 30 percent.) At this point, the quotas' efficacy seems more a matter of the political parties' embracing their spirit than anything the Court can do.

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