A Centenary

The 2009 municipal elections were a special occasion because they marked a jubilee. The year 2009 was the centenary for the first representation of women on Danish municipal councils. A change to the election law in 1908 meant that women became eligible to stand as candidates and were granted suffrage in municipal elections.

Normally, 1915 is mentioned as the year women got the right to vote and stand for election – but this concerned parliamentary elections.

In fact, women were already able to participate as both voters and candidates in the 1909 municipal elections. One consequence was that 1.3 per cent of the seats on municipal councils were won by women. The centenary was celebrated in style with various events in 2009, just as KVINFO initiated the festschrift: “Women in Local Government from 1909 to 2009 – Festschrift for 100 Years of Female Suffrage” (“Kvinder i kommunalpolitik 1909-2009 – Festskrift for 100 år med kvinders valgret”) (Larsen 2009).

The celebration of the centenary was of course one thing, but the jubilee also offered  the possibility to pause and take stock of developments. Therefore, this chapter will examine how things have developed since 1909 and assess the present situation regarding women’s presence in Danish municipal politics. Whether the situation is considered good or bad is, of course, a matter of perspective. The fact remains that though it is 100 years since the perception that only men were suited to hold office in local government was done away with, there might still be people who believe that making political decisions is “a man’s job” (here to be taken literally and not in the meaning “man m/f”), and who therefore do not see any problems in the fact that there are not as many women as men on the municipal councils in Denmark.

Figure 1. The percentage of women among candidates, municipal councillors and mayors in municipal elections from 1909 to 2009. 

 

Note: It has not been possible to find data about candidates prior to 1929 and mayors prior to 1970

Source: Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), various publications and the data base of Mayors.

On the other hand, there might also be people who consider political gender equality to be an important political goal and who are therefore critical of a situation where women and men are not represented in approximately equal numbers among elected politicians (Paxton 1997; Caul 2001). This more normative discussion is not the main topic of this chapter, which is primarily a description of the present situation: To what degree have women become part of the elite of Local government, and what mechanisms might possibly stand in the way of the achievement of full numerical equality?

Even after 100 years, women have not reached a numerically equal representation so that their ratio of the municipal council members reflects the fact that half the population is female. Following the 2009 elections, women constituted 785 of the 2,468 elected to municipal councils – corresponding to 31.8 per cent. This was actually rather a big leap forward compared to the municipal elections in 2005, in which women took 689 of the 2,522 seats available at the time – corresponding to 27.3 per cent. Moreover, the 2009 result is the so far highest percentage of women in Local government – and the former record of 27.9 per cent from 1993 was beaten by a clear margin. Nevertheless, an increase of 4.5 percentage points in one election remains unusual. This becomes clear when looking at Figure 1, which shows the percentage of women on municipal councils since 1909.

Figure 1 also shows that, whereas the percentage of women hardly increased in the period until the Second World War (In the period from 1909 to 1943, the percentage of women only increased from 1.3 to 1.6), the number of female municipal councillors increased steadily from the end of the war and up until the beginning of the seventies. After 197o elections, women constituted 10.5 per cent of the councillors. From 1970 to 1993, the ratio increased even faster (to the aforementioned 27.9 per cent), but hereafter, development ground to a halt and the ratio of women remained the same for three elections. This stagnation has been explained by the so-called saturation theory, which holds that a female representation of around 30 per cent in various municipal contexts is considered sufficient. (Kjær 1999, 2009). However, the stagnation ended in 2009 when the number of female municipal councillors climbed above 30 per cent for the first time.

The 2009 elections were also good for female candidates in the sense that for the first time, the percentage of women elected to office surpassed the percentage of women among the candidates. As illustrated in Figure 1 the percentage of female candidates has, since at least 1929, been higher than the percentage of women elected. In other words, women have, traditionally, been weakened during the electoral process. But in 2009 this pattern was broken as 31.1 per cent women among the candidates became the aforementioned 31.8 per cent women elected to municipal councils. Furthermore, Figure 1 shows that 2009 also became a record year concerning female mayors. Following the elections in 2005, seven women were elected mayors by the municipal councils (see also Berg & Kjær 2005, 2007: 245). In 2009, that number doubled and 14 women became mayors. In spite of this, Figure 1 still shows that it is extremely difficult for women to break the “glass ceiling” (Dahlerup 2008) and  take the top political power posts – at least when it comes to municipal politics.

The development in the percentage of women has been analysed and discussed before (see Bentzon 1981; Dahlerup 1988, 2008. Kjær 1997, 2000, 2001, 2007, 2009; Bach 2005) and therefore, the focus of this chapter will be the 31.8 per cent held by women at the present moment. The big question is why, at a time when many celebrate equality as a done deal – and at a time when we have a female prime minister – is it still the case that less than a third of the municipal councillors are women? Why do we not, even after 100 years, come close to numerical equality on the municipal councils?

The analysis will be based on two approaches. Firstly, there has been a tendency to build on an assumption that the development in women’s representation is the same everywhere. The fact is that the picture can vary from party to party and from municipality to municipality. This means that some places may have achieved numerical equality, while others drag the average down. Secondly, it is possible that the perception of the importance of gender equality is not as widespread as is often assumed, or at least that the willingness of the electorate to "Correct” the numerical underrepresentation of women cannot be taken for granted. It is often assumed that it is only a matter of time until we reach numerical equality; but 100 years is a considerable length of time, and this article therefore also looks at what the electorate actually thinks about a higher proportion of women on municipal councils– including the opinions of both male and female voters.

Differences in Women’s Representation in Parties and on Municipal Councils

At least since Maurice Duverger, a specialist in political parties, introduced the idea that the political parties (and their voters) act differently in relation to the gender question (Duverger 1951,) focus has been on whether or not the representation of women is different from party to party (Caul 1999; Kjær 2004; Christmas-Best & Kjær 2007). The theory launched by Duverger is that left wing parties for ideological reasons have a more positive view of female candidates and therefore include them more often than do right wing parties. A side effect, according to the theory, is that this nomination of female candidates also puts pressure on the other parties to follow suit, as it is possible that some voters would want to vote for a woman because of gender politics (Darcy et al 1994: 54; Borisyuk et al 2007: 188). This more dynamic “contamination effect” (Kjær 2010 a) has not been proven empirically (Darcy et al 194: 153; Caul 1999: 88; however, also see Studlar & Welch 1992). However, numerous studies have shown that there is generally a higher representation of women in left wing parties than in right wing parties. (Rule 1987; Reynolds 1999; Siaroff 2000; Paxton et al. 2007: 270).

This pattern can be recognised quite clearly on Danish municipal councils, as SF (the Socialist People’s Party) came out of the election in 2009 with the highest percentage of women among its local politicians (45 per cent) closely followed by Radikale Venstre (the Danish Social Liberal Party)(44 per cent), whereas Det Konservative Folkeparti (The Conservative Party) (29 per cent), Dansk Folkeparti (the Danish People’s Party) (28 per cent) and Venstre (The Liberal Party of Denmark) (27 per cent) have a relatively low degree of women’s representation. Socialdemokratiet (the Social Democratic Party) are in the middle with 32 per cent (The Unity List has 36 per cent but is not included in the following analysis because they have only few municipal councillors). Those differences are quite dramatic, and the tale of the low numerical representation of women on municipal councils could also be told as the tale of, on the one hand, two parties – SF and Radikale Venstre – who have almost as many women as men among their local politicians and, on the other hand, the other parties, who are lagging sorely behind and are dragging the average down below 32 per cent.

Figure 2. The percentage of women among elected local councillors at the elections from 1970 to 2009

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

 

 

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Just as there are differences in the percentage of women from party to party, one can take a look at the proportion of women from municipal  council to municipal council. It has previously been shown that there are a relatively higher number of women in the more urbanised (and therefore more modern?) municipalities (Kjær 2010a). Following the structural reform in 2005, quite a number of rural and urban municipalities have become more mixed and therefore there is no longer any simple correlation between the degree of urbanisation (or for that matter the size of the municipality) and the share of women on the municipal council. Although the differences do not run along traditional lines, there are still substantial differences from municipality to municipality as demonstrated by Table 1, which shows the top 10 and the bottom 10 municipalities with respect to women’s representation in 2009.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1 shows rather marked variations between the municipalities. Not only is there a big difference between the Gentofte municipality , with almost 60 per cent women on the municipal council, and the Stevns municipality , with only just over 10 per cent, it is also worth noting the fact that 10 municipalities have almost equal representation of men and women, while another 10 municipalities have less than 20 per cent women on the municipal council. The discussion about the low number of women in local government therefore has to be conducted on different backgrounds according to the municipality in question. In the Copenhagen area, there is no real cause for concern over underrepresentation of women. With  48 per cent women in Frederiksberg and 49 in Copenhagen, the issue is less urgent here than in many other places around the country. Even though the variation in the percentage of women generally cannot be explained by the level of urbanisation, Table 1 still displays some degree of pattern as several of the highest scoring municipalities are located in the Copenhagen Metropolitan Area, whereas several of  the low-scoring municipalities are situated some distance away from the capital. Thus, the average percentage of women in all the municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark is 38.1, whereas the average percentage in the  municipalities in the North Denmark Region is only 26.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Table 1. The 10 highest and the 10 lowest ranking municipalities by percentage of women on the municipal council following the 2005 structural reform.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

Note: The Progress Party (1974-1993) and Danish People’s Party (1997-2009) are shown in the same graph
Source: Calculated based on Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various years.

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

To illustrate the development over time, the share of female politicians on municipal councils by party from 1970 to 2009 is shown in Figure 2 (there are no data prior to 1970). The figure shows that the differences between the parties have been relatively stable throughout the period (also see Kjær 2000). Apart from the fact that the percentage of women councillors from Radikale Venstre has fluctuated a bit more than is the case for the other parties, SF is actually the only party to break the pattern to some extent. This happened when they got a significantly greater number of women elected in 1978, and thus went from being the party with the lowest share to the one with the highest. Otherwise, the ranking among the parties is relatively stable, with Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti (before 1997 known as Fremskridtspartiet – The Progress Party) having fewest of women (in 2009 Venstre ranked lowest for the first time).

Source: Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger, div.

The municipalities situated in Region Zealand, the Region of Southern Denmark and the Central Denmark Region score between the two extremities with 30.3, 28.3 and 31.4 per cent respectively.

Precisely in relation to the differences among the municipalities, it has been claimed that the structural reform could have an effect on the development of women’s representation. During the 2005 municipal elections, the percentage of female municipal councillors rose in the municipalities that were not merged with others in the reform. At the same time, the percentage of women dropped in the new municipalities that were created as result of mergers of several municipalities (seen in relation to the percentage of women in those municipalities that were part of the merger) (Kjær 2007). The reason is that in those municipalities that were part of a merger, there was a lot of focus in the 2005 elections on where the candidate came from (not least which of the former municipalities he or she used to belong to) and this diverted attention from other characteristics of the candidates, such as gender. Voters were probably more focused on achieving a municipal council with equal geographical representation than with equal gender representation (Kjær 2007). The question, however, is whether this difference in developments between the newly created municipalities and those who remained unchanged continued in the 2009 elections, or whether it was a one-time effect. To answer this question, Figure 3 shows the percentage of women in the municipalities that were part of a merger and in those who were not.

Figure 3. The percentage of women in the group of municipalities that merged and the group of municipalities that remained unchanged after the 2005 structural reform.

Note: Municipalities are counted among the unchanged (32) or newly merged (243 before 2005, 66 after 2005) municipal depending on whether they were part of a merger in the structural reform or not.

Source: Danmarks Statistik (Statistics Denmark), “Statistiske Efterretninger”, various publications

Figure 3 demonstrates that the women’s ratio throughout the period has been higher in the municipalities that were not merged than in those that was. The reason is that many of the municipalities that remained unchanged are the larger urban municipalities and the Copenhagen suburbs, which have traditionally had a higher representation of women. However, Figure 3 clearly shows that developments in the two types of municipalities have been quite parallel and that the demonstrated effect of the structural reform did not repeat itself in 2009. The percentage of women increased in both types of municipalities in 2009. The increase was actually a bit larger in the newly created municipalities, which in effect made up for the losses in 2005. When women seemed to lose out in the mergers, this was correct in 2005, but after the 2009 elections, it becomes clear that it was only a small bump in the road and that the negative effect has already been evened out.

Do Voters Want More Women on Municipal Councils?

Even though it is possible to prove that the low percentage of women is more pronounced in some parties and in some municipalities than it is in others, the general picture remains one of rather widespread underrepresentation of women. We therefore need to look for more general explanations of women’s difficulties gaining access to the upper echelons of municipal politics. An important hypothesis in this connection is that the focus on women’s representation does not play a significant role for the voters, or at least not a big enough role for them to vote for women in a significantly higher number now than they did in the past.

The elections for  municipal councils are conducted by proportional representation on party lists. Voters can either give their vote to the party list or to one of the candidates on the list. It is common to use the system of equal ranking on the electoral list rather than prioritised ranking. As a consequence, the number of votes for each individual candidate determines who is elected

Table 2. The share of male and female voters who at the local elections in 1978, 2005 and 2009 voted for the party list or gave their vote to a male or female candidate on the list.

 

 

1978

2005

2009

 

Women

Men

Women

Men

Women

Men

Voted for the party list

27

28

26

27

29

27

Voted for a male candidate

51

61

50

55

43

55

Voted for a female candidate

22

11

24

18

28

18

 

100

100

100

100

100

100

 

Note: n = 1,555; 1,672 and 3,007 respectively

Sources: Kommunalvalgsundersøgelse (Study of the municipal elections) 1978, 2005 and 2009.

This means that voters could promote the female candidates if they wanted to, ensuring that their number on the municipal council matched their proportion of the population (Kjær 2007). As half the electorate is female, they alone could bring the ratio up to 50 per cent from one election to the next if they chose to vote for the women and divided their votes for the female candidates in the right way. “All” that would be required in order to abolish the numerical underrepresentation of women is for women to vote for female candidates and actually let the gender (which can be deducted from the names on the ballot paper) play a crucial role for the way they cast their vote. To find out to which degree the voters act like this, voting patterns are calculated in Table 2 according to whether the voters voted for the party list or gave their vote to one of the candidates, either male or female.

Table 2 makes it clear that it is the voters themselves – including the female voters – who do not take the opportunity to significantly increase the percentage of women in Danish municipal politics. Only 28 per cent of the female voters voted for a female candidate in 2009, while as many as 43 per cent voted for a male candidate. Table 2 also shows that this number only increased slightly compared to the two other elections from which this type of voting pattern information exists: 1978 and 2005. More voters cast their vote for female candidates today than 30 years ago (there are also more women among the candidates), but both male and female voters have changed their voting patterns on this point. Furthermore, the fact is that the increase is not very high for any of the genders. Even today, relatively few voters chose to give their vote to female candidates.

Table 3. The importance of a number of candidates’ characteristics that played a role when choosing to vote for a candidate in the 2009 municipal elections.

 

 

Women

Men

Sum

The political views of the candidate

 

 

 

     Very important

77

75

76

     Some importance

18

19

19

     No importance

5

6

5

     Sum

100

100

100

The candidate is good at the political game

 

 

 

     Very important

69

65

67

     Some importance

23

28

26

     No importance

8

7

7

     Sum

100

100

100

The candidate is involved in the local community life

     Very important

34

35

34

     Some importance

28

33

31

     No importance

38

32

35

     Sum

100

100

100

The candidate is from my part of the municipality

     Very important

34

30

32

     Some importance

19

16

17

     No importance

47

54

51

     Sum

100

100

100

The background of the candidate (Education, job)

     Very important

23

23

23

     Some importance

31

33

32

     No importance

46

44

45

     Sum

100

100

100

The age of the candidate

     Very important

15

11

13

     Some importance

30

27

28

     No importance

55

62

59

     Sum

100

100

100

The gender of the candidate

     Very important

15

8

11

     Some importance

14

8

11

     No importance

71

84

78

     Sum

100

100

100

 

Note: n=2,121 (weighted to match the general population)

Source: Kommunalvalgsundersøgelse (Study of the municipal elections) 2009.

Table 2 shows that if a voter choses to vote for an individual candidate rather than the party list, the candidate’s gender is not a determining factor. But what factors then play a role when voters decide which candidates to vote for?  Table 3 shows the distribution among a number of possible reasons for voting for a specific candidate in 2009.

Table 3 confirms that the voters do not consider the gender of the candidate to be very important. After the elections in 2005, the reasons mentioned were almost the same (Buch 2007: 130). The voters are much more preoccupied with the political views of the candidate and their ability to be part of the political game than with their background. With respect to gender, Table 3 even shows that to the extent that the voters do actually let their vote be influenced by the background of a candidate, the gender is the absolute lowest priority among the relevant characteristics. Voters are significantly more preoccupied with the candidate’s involvement in the local community and with which part of the municipality they live in than with demographic variables such as age and gender.

As demonstrated in Table 3 the gender of the candidate does play a larger role for female voters than for male voters, but even for the women, gender is still the least important variable. Female voters do not attach a great degree of importance to gender, and the numbers therefore do not indicate any potential that women could increase the level of female representation in municipal councils by simply giving their vote to a woman. Neither male nor female voters are willing to compromise to any significant degree on the political abilities and opinions of candidates in order to secure better representation of women. And the judgement of female voters as to which candidates possess the requisite political abilities and opinions seems to chime just fine with having less than 33 percent women on the municipal council.

Even though voters in their actions – given the current supply of candidates in their municipality – do little to increase the percentage of women to something even remotely resembling numerical equal representation, they still might have idealistic ideas about more gender-balanced municipal councils. In the studies of the municipal elections we conducted, we therefore asked voters directly if they think it is important that municipal councillors resemble the voters with respect to gender. The distribution of answers can be seen in Table 4.

Table 4. Voter evaluation of the importance of municipal politicians reflecting the electorate in terms of gender and geographical origins in the 2009 municipal elections.

 

Female

Male

Sum

It is important that the ratio of men and women reflect the ratio among the voters

    Fully agree /
    Agree partly

61

47

53

    Neither agrees
    nor disagrees

17

23

20

    Partly agree /
    Fully disagree

22

30

27

Total

100

100

100

It is important that the local councillors be from different geographical parts of the municipality)

    Fully agree /
    Agree partly

72

67

69

    Neither agrees
    nor disagrees

16

17

17

    Partly agree /
    Fully disagree

12

16

14

Total

100

100

100

Note: n=3,234 (weighted to match the general population)

Source: Kommunalvalgsundersøgelse (study of the local elections) 2009.

Table 4 shows that just over half of the voters agree that it is important that the local politicians reflect the electorate in terms of gender balance (although this also means that the other half does not find this particularly important). Among female voters, the share is even over 60 percent. However, Table 4 also shows that the voters actually consider a reflection of the geographical make-up of the municipality to be more important – and this is, notably, the case for both men and women. As mentioned in the above, there were speculations in connection with the structural reform that the question of geographical representation could take focus away from the question of a more equal representation of the genders. Both Table 3 and 4 shows that we are dealing with a more general issue. The voters would not necessarily mind having more women on the municipal councils but there are many other issues to consider when it comes to the make-up of the municipal council, and the gender distribution does not rank highest – quite the opposite, in fact.

Conclusion

At the 2009 municipal elections, women were able to celebrate the centenary of suffrage in and electability to municipal councils. And precisely in the year of the jubilee, the number of elected women in the municipal councils increased by more than 4 percentage points so that we now, with 31.8 percent women, have the highest ratio of women to men in Danish history. It is questionable whether the jubilee and the increased focus that the celebrations gave to the gender issue played any role in this development.

An alternative explanation could be that the 2009 elections were the first “ordinary” local elections in more than 10 years. In 2001, the focus on gender had been overshadowed by the national elections. Four years later, it was overshadowed by the focus on the structural reform. However, it is worth remembering that the stagnation in the development of women’s representation started as early as in 1997 (as early as 1993 for candidates), as illustrated in Figure 1. Similarly, it is worth noting that the focus on gender among the voters, as shown in Table 3 and 4, continues to lag behind for instance the focus on the geographical background of the candidates. For many voters it is still more important to have someone elected from their part of the municipality than it is to make sure that a woman makes it onto the council.

Even though the significant progress for the women in the elections in 2009 can be considered as a well-chosen gift for the jubilee, it is probably appropriate that those who want a stronger numerical equal representation of women in Danish local government tone down the festive speeches. The fact remains that it is also possible to paint a darker picture 100 years after women became eligible to stand for election. Women are still a clear minority in Danish municipal politics. Women occupy less than a third of the seats on the municipal councils and less than a seventh of the mayoral posts. The analyses in this chapter do not indicate that those numbers will increase in the near future. If the stagnation from previous decades has been broken and the numbers of women continue to increase, the development will probably be relatively slow.

The reason for this is that the inclination of the voters to correct  the situation is limited. It is possible for voters to elect more female municipal councillors, but they do not use their votes to increase the percentage of women on the municipal councils. This is goes women themselves, too. Even though they are a bit more interested in the gender issue than men are, the representation of women does not seem to be high on their agenda. Even if they want a better gender balance, most remain unwilling to compromise on their other political priorities by giving their vote to a woman as a form of affirmative action.

The conclusion in regards to women in Danish municipal politics is therefore – as has also been shown in previous studies (Kjær 1999, 2000, 2001, 2007, 2009) – that it is not possible to identify mechanisms in the institutional set up which systematically keep the women out. It seems that it is the attitude among the electorate – not least the lack of interest in the question of gender – which constitutes the major barrier to women coming to occupy a number of political posts in local government reflective of their share of the population. The percentage of women may still increase in future local elections. However, the attitudes among the electorate and the lack of focus on the gender issue, as it has been proven in this chapter, will probably mean that change will be slow in the years to come.

If the voters do not want to vote for the female candidates on the list what would then have to change in order to accelerate the development? While the voters are not impatient, there might well be some impatience among those who desire a greater degree of gender equality in municipal politics as well. There are two possibilities here.

Firstly, the widespread lack of interest among the electorate concerning the gender of the candidates might be turned into an offensive strategy: If the voters do not discriminate based on gender, then the ratio of women could be increased in the local councils by increasing the percentage of women among the candidates. As Figure 1 illustrated, the percentages of female candidates and women who are elected to office are proportionate. Therefore, a solution could be to get more women onto electoral lists, probably resulting in an increase in the percentage of elected women. The real good question is how to get more women to run as candidates? The political parties play one of the major roles in this process, as they are the ones who decide who gets to be on the electoral lists (Norris & Lovenduski 1995). There is some potential for change here, not least in the parties in the centre and on the right wing of the political spectrum and in the municipalities outside the Capital Region of Denmark.

The other possible factor is the women themselves. They must be active when the local party associations decide who makes it to the electoral lists. In this connection, the question could be if there are systematic differences in the conditions that men and women are subject to when they want to run for local office. As women still spend more hours taking care of the home than their husbands – and as most local politicians work full time– one can imagine that the combination of family, job, and the role of free-time local councillor might be more difficult for women to juggle than for men. It is of course difficult to change the gender roles in Danish families from the outside. But one could ask if it would be difficult to change the conditions surrounding the evening job as local councillor. For instance, it has been established that in a number of countries where the position of member of the national parliament has become a full time job, women are better represented on the national level than in local politics (Kjær 2010b). This is actually also the case in Denmark where the percentage of female MPs is 38.9.

Secondly, one could try to change the attitude of the electorate towards the gender issue. During the latest elections, we have seen various attempts at increasing the focus on gender. Not least among these is the fact that the simple argument of fairness has been advanced again and again. When women constitute half the population, it is unfair that they do not constitute half of the local politicians. It might be time to take this argument one step further and try to show the electorate what they miss by not having enough focus on gender and by not having a sufficiently high number of women in municipal politics. What are the representational advantages of a higher degree of reflection of the gender issue? It might be the case that some voters consider the geographical representation as more important than having more women on the municipal council because they imagine it is important to have someone from the village who can speak in their favour on the municipal council when a new school structure is being discussed or a new policy for the development of the villages in the municipality is being drawn up. But maybe there are really good arguments for including more women; maybe they could do the representative work differently (Philips 1995, Mansbridge 1999). If so, those arguments should be identified, exemplified and communicated. It will surely not be an easy task and it might be the reason why it has not previously been undertaken in a serious manner. On the other hand, those who are impatient must act: If the rate of increase from the first 100 years continues, an equal representation of the genders in Danish municipal councils will not happen until the 2069 elections!

 

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