Best on women and democracy

The Swedish county of Västerbotten has an election voter turnout of more than 85 percent and a 56 percent stake of women in its regional parliament.
Tue, 02/04/2014 - 13:13 By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

The northern Swedish region with a population of close to 260 thousand has top ranking in the world’s leading country on democracy issues and women’s participation. Figures assembled by BarentsObserver show that Västerbotten in its last regional parliament elections (2010) had a voter turnout of as much as 86,2 percent. Furthermore, contrary to the situation in most other regions, the turnout is on the increase compared with the previous two elections.

The results put Västerbotten far ahead of its neighbors in the Barents Region.  Data from northern Finland, Norway and Russia show a picture of considerably less voter activity. In Barents Russia, the election turnout is the lowest with the Republic of Karelia as the worst-off region (44,4%). In northern Finland, voter turnout in the last municipal elections were 61,1 percent and 64,6 percent in Lapland and Northern Ostrobotnia respectively. In the northern Norwegian regions, the voter turnout in the last regional parliament elections varied between 71-74 percent.

Västerbotten is also leading the ranking on the number of women in regional parliaments. Figures from the county’s regional legislative assembly show that the stake of woman is as high as 56,3 percent. On the bottom of the Barents ranking is the Russian region of Murmansk, which has only 16,7 percent women in its regional assembly.

No surprise, the region is also headed by a woman. Magdalena Andersson is a former member of parliament and was in 2012 appointed to the top regional post.

Västerbotten is governed from Umeå, a major university city where students make up almost half of the population. Also in the university, women play the leading role. Professor Lena Gustafsson runs the technology-oriented institution where 61 percent of the students are women.


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