SWMENA survey respondents were asked a series of questions about their participation in the June 2009 parliamentary elections and their opinions about policy priorities for elected officials and the main factors driving their voting choices.
- While civic engagement as seen in the previous analysis is relatively limited, voting in the elections, which is a more direct form of political participation, was high for both men and women in a closely contested election. In fact, women report slightly higher voter turnout than men in the June 2009 parliamentary elections: 80% said they voted vs. 78% of men, but the difference is not statistically significant (Figure 9). This shows that there is no gender gap in voter participation in Lebanon.
- Also interestingly, there is no statistical difference in women’s participation in elections when looking at urban vs. rural areas or when looking at voter turnout by sect (Figure 10).
- Turnout is lower, however, for women in the 21-24 age group with only 69% reporting voting in the elections: this is significantly lower than older age groups and might be partly a reflection of those women who had not yet turned 21 (the legal voting age) when elections took place. When eliminating those who are 21 from the base, we find that the 22-24 cohort still has a lower voter turnout (76%) than most age categories except for the 65 and older.
- Of those eligible voters who did not vote in the elections, two of the three most cited reasons for not voting by both men and women are the fact that they did not support any candidate or party or that they are not interested in politics (Figure 11). Yet the third most cited reason for not voting by women is “being sick”: this only comes in the tenth place for men. Fifteen percent of men who did not vote said they were out of town/ country when elections took place: this is much less common among women (8%).
- Reasons for not voting differ when breaking down results by sectarian groups: Christian women are more likely not to have voted for voluntary reasons related to some sort of dissatisfaction with the political situation: not being interested in elections or politics (21%) or not supporting any candidates (17%). For Sunni and Shia women “not being registered” is cited by many respondents (12% and 13% respectively). Druze women have reasons similar to those cited by christians.