A court in the Eastern state of Thuringia has stated that the rule to alternate between male and female candidates on party lists violates the constitution, following a suit brought by the far-right AfD party. The court’s president argued that freedom of choice requires that elections are not carried out by coercion and pressure from the state.
However, the court ruling was not unanimous. One of the two dissenting opinions claimed the majority underestimated the “existing structural discrimination against women in politics.”
While the AfD celebrated the ruling, the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens, and Left (Die Linke) all promised to continue with the principle of their party lists regardless of the decision.
The ruling could spell bad news for a similar law in Brandenburg, which came into force before the one in Thuringia and is also currently being adjudicated before a court.
Men make up a majority in every one of Germany’s state parliaments. Hamburg has the highest level of female representation at 43.9%, followed by Bremen. However, the ratio is lower everywhere else, with Saxony-Anhalt coming in last with 21.8%.
When it comes to the Bundestag, female representation sits at 31%, putting Germany behind other European countries like Sweden (47.3%), Spain (41.1%), and France (39.7%).