The Shift in Womens' Votes
Birmingham, Great Britain, 9 February 1996
The regional meeting of Socialist International Women in Birmingham will consider women's voting behaviour in Britain and elsewhere.
It is a notable and important fact that women historically have tended to vote more conservatively than men and give less support than men to socialist and social democratic parties. In recent years this pattern has begun to change, with women's votes swinging leftwards in some countries.
SIW has been in the lead in promoting the more equal representation of women in politics. It has not previously paid attention to women's voting behaviour. The purpose of the regional meeting is to raise awareness amongst SIW member organisations of the patterns in women's voting and the way in which member parties might communicate better with women and win more votes.
The British evidence suggests that the British Conservative party has taken considerable care in analysing women's voting patterns and in seeking to win the support of women voters. It is only in recent years that the Labour Party has begun to undertake detailed research, and to develop specific strategies to communicate effectively with key women voters. If those parties which advocate equality for women fail to win women's electoral support, then women's equality will be held back and must hold back the effectiveness of the work of SIW.
The meeting in Birmingham is intended to start a process of pooling experience and research on women's voting behaviour in order to strengthen the contribution SIW makes to the electoral success of our sister parties worldwide.
SIW could provide a valuable forum for sharing international experience of women's voting behaviour. It is hoped that the Birmingham experience will start this process.