Jaakko Turunen, PhD

Making Gender Political: Debating gender parity in the Polish Sejm


Jaakko Turunen teaches politics at Södertörn University. He is interested in Polish and Slovakian political discourses and methods of textual analysis in political science.
In summer 2009, the first Women’s Congress (Kongre Kobiet) was held in Poland. It put forward a proposition for a changed electoral law that called forth a parity between sexes on electoral lists in Poland. In fact, the proposition read that “The number of women on the electoral list cannot be smaller than the number of men.” What happened during the parliamentary debate on the bill on parity reveals some very interesting dynamics of first arguing for the political relevance of gender, of relations between men and women on the one hand and citizens on the other hand in the public sphere, and of course some patriarchal outbursts. However, the micro-analysis of the debate shows that gender relations in Polish politics are not only about subjugating women and imposing and strengthening patriarchy. On the contrary, at question are more complex issues that concern the questions of politics, free markets, communist past and the possibilities of laws to regulate society. These partly can help us understand the difficulties Anglo-American feminism has faced in Poland and it compels us to rethink what we understand by universalism - without epithets - in politics.
The presentation is based on thesis Semiotics of Politics. Dialogicality of Parliamentary Talk. Especially Chapter 7 can be of interest. The text is freely available on http://uu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:771626/FULLTEXT01.pdf