In a world of Arab states often accused of being run by men of one party or none, Yemen is the newest exception. With a multi-party system, it is now also aiming at electing more women.
On 27 April 2003, the country's third parliamentary elections since its unification in 1990, 22 parties and independents contested the elections. There were only 16 female candidates, the smallest percentage ever, even though female voters make up 45% of the registered electorate.
The main parties were President Ali Abdullah Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC), the opposition Yemeni Congregation for Reform (Islah), and the Yemeni Socialist Party. In the outgoing assembly, the GPC had 226 seats, Islah 62, the opposition Nasserite party three seats and the Baath party two. Independents held eight seats while the Socialist Party had no representative.
The electoral campaign was overshadowed by the US-led war on Iraq. All political parties gave priority to the fight against terrorism, but with completely different approaches. The GPC declared its intention to continue cooperating with the United States and the rest of the world in the war against terrorism, while the Islah announced that combating terrorism should be discussed and approved by legislative institutions. The newspaper close to the GPC even went so far as to name the Assahwa newspaper, close to Islah, as the Taliban-Yemen mouthpiece.
The polls were supervised by 175 international observers and thousands of national monitors.
People's General Congress won 58.01% of the vote and 238 seats.
The opposition Yemeni Congregation for Reform (Islah) won 22.55% and 46 seats.
The Yemeni Socialist Party won 3.84% and 8 seats.
Four seats went to Independents, the Nasserite Unionist Popular Organisation obtained three seats, while the Arab Baath Socialist Party won the remaining two.
Only one woman was elected out of 300 MPs.
The Islah Party has agreed to women’s participation in the parliamentary elections and has called on political parties to present female candidates for the presidency.
The ruling party, the General People’s Congress (GPC) agreed to apply the quota system with 10% representation in Parliament and from 15 to 20% in local councils, while the Socialistic Party has started the initiative and applied 30% female representation in its internal party representation, beginning with an elected female assistant general secretary of the party, the first woman in Yemen to gain this position.
[ 09 October 2005: Message edited by: Wilf Day ]