The Balearic Parliament yesterday approved the law on electoral parity (the same number of male and female candidates), despite fierce opposition from the conservative Popular Party (PP). Under the new law, if the first name on a list of candidates is a man, then the second has to be a woman and so on, giving rise to the nickname “zipper system.” The law will be operative for the next regional elections. The new bill gave rise to one of the toughest debates in Parliament this legislature. PP deputy Maria Salom accused Balearic leader Francesc Antich of promoting electoral parity “to use women and fill the urns with their votes.” The law, she said, “only affects women dedicated to politics,” adding that “a person's intelligence should not be measured by their sex.” She criticised the coalition government for “changing the electoral law without juridical guarantees. She also criticised the coalition government for having only three women ministers and only 14 of the 74 top posts in the region are occupied by women. Santiago Ferrer, the deputy for Formentera, defended parity, and said that “those who are annoyed are the men of the PP as they see their presence in the electoral lists compromised.”Josep Portella of United Left, described the law as “a challenge for all the parties,” while Bosco Gomila of the PSM (Majorcan Socialist Party) said that “it would be an insult not to do anything to incorporate women in all fields of society.” Socialist Francina Armengol said that she was proud “to defend this law, which will be a symbol, as when the Second Republic allowed women to vote.” She added “We have never said that this law would solve the problems which women face, but it is an innovative law and the Balearic community will continue to progress despite the PP.” In her second intervention, Maria Salom pointed out that even social welfare minister Fernanda Caro admitted that the government spends more money on advertising than on women's affairs. To end the debate, Armengol said it was “very sad for the PP deputy to convert a debate of these characteristics into a circus.” She also pointed out that the law on divorce had been approved without the votes of the PP, “although many of its leaders have made use of this law.” The gallery was packed with representatives of feminist groups and women of the PP.


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