PapersSocial Issues2024, a European political year - through the eyes of women

2024, a European political year – through the eyes of women

By Fondation Robert Schuman

In 1906, Finland became the first country in Europe to grant women the right to vote, with the adoption of universal suffrage, at the same time as it won its autonomy from the Russian Empire. The following year, Finnish women were able to exercise this right in the general elections. Throughout the twentieth century, women in Europe and around the world fought long and hard to gain the right to vote without any additional conditions to those required of men. In some countries, only widows were allowed to vote as a first step towards electoral emancipation (in Belgium, for example, until 1921). In other countries, such as Bulgaria, the right to vote was initially reserved for mothers of legitimate children and exclusively for local elections. In Portugal, only women with a university degree were allowed to vote from 1931 on. In Spain it was not until post-Franco democratisation and the 1976 elections that Spanish women regained the right to vote, initially acquired in 1931 before the civil war. This year France is celebrating the 80th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote. Cypriot women won the right to vote at the same time as their male counterparts when the Republic was created in 1960. This can be explained quite simply by the fact that, at that time, such discrimination could no longer be justified. So, it took a good part of the twentieth century to get there…

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Author: Stefanie Buzmaniuk, Senior Research Fellow, Development Manager, Robert Schuman Foundation.

This text has originally been published on the Robert Schuman Foundation website.

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