European countries with female prime ministers


3856Britain has joined Poland and Germany in the small group of EU member states with a female parliamentary leader. Norway, whose relationship with the EU new UK prime minister Theresa May might seek to emulate, also has a woman in charge in Erna Solberg.

The responsibilities of being parliamentary leader vary from country to country. In Britain and Germany, May and Angela Merkel are the most powerful politicians going. However, Édith Cresson, prime minister of France in the early 1990s, wielded less influence than her president, François Mitterrand.

In any case, there remain several major European countries that have never had a woman in charge of their parliament, including Spain, Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands. The bars in the graphic represent all 45 modern European nations, with their years under a female prime minister highlighted.

Britain was the first European country to pass this milestone when Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979. However, fewer than a third of British MPs are women, which means the House of Commons is only the 12th most gender-balanced lower house in the EU. Countries with a higher proportion of female parliamentarians include Spain, Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands.


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