Where Quotas Work

   •    October 15, 2005

This article was originally published by the Los Angeles Times.

The new Iraqi constitution — to be approved or rejected in a nationwide referendum today — includes a provision that would never get passed in the United States: It sets aside at least 25% of the seats in parliament for women.

Such an idea would be laughed off the table in American politics. It’s undemocratic, right? The theory here — under the system laid out in our own Constitution — is that if our citizens want to elect women, they’ll vote for them.

If “set-asides” were suggested, critics would immediately ask why having women in government is more important than having blacks, or Latinos, or Jews. Should we have set-asides for all of them? That would be deemed ridiculous, unworkable and undesirable.

So why is the United States allowing such a system to be installed in Iraq — and even encouraging people to vote for it? For a number of reasons, and I think they’re absolutely right.

Read the full article.

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