Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process
The constitution and law provide citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage.
Elections and Political Participation
Recent Elections: President Macky Sall has held office since 2012. In legislative elections held on July 30, 2017, Sall’s coalition won a majority of seats in the National Assembly. Local NGOs and international observers, including those from the African Union, characterized the elections as generally free and fair, despite significant irregularities. Approximately 53 percent of voters cast ballots, a significant increase from the 36 percent who cast ballots in the previous legislative election in 2012.
Participation of Women and Minorities: No laws limit the participation of women or members of minorities in the political process, and they did participate. The 2010 gender parity law requires the candidate lists of political parties to contain equal numbers of men and women for elected positions at all levels, from city councils to the National Assembly. In the July 2017 legislative election, all lists of candidates fully complied with the parity law. While the number of women in elected positions has increased, the law has not significantly expanded their role in exercising political authority since it does not apply to party leadership positions or to other important decision-making bodies, such as the cabinet and the judiciary. Some observers believed that traditional and cultural factors prevented women from participating in the political process to the same extent as men.