Britain Elects Most Diverse Parliament In Country’s History

The House of Commons will have more female, minority and LGBTQ voices than ever before.

A record number of women, minorities and members of the LGBTQ community were selected to Britain's Parliament Thursday in a general election that additionally shone a light of uncertainty on the power of Theresa May's Conservative party. Over a third of the seats — 207 — in the House of Commons (think the British House of Representatives) will be held by women after the election compared to the 196 who currently serve. The previous record for the number of women elected in a single general vote was 191. 

Even as May was forced to form a coalition with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, one of the most socially conservative parties in the U.K., in order to maintain power in Parliament, the general consensus of U.K. voters was to elect those of more diverse backgrounds than who have previously held parliamentary positions. A record number of trans people were candidates in this election, which also saw the election of the first Sikh woman to Parliament

"Democracy works best when all of society feel they have a stake within it," Simon Woolley, cofounder and director of Operation Black Vote, told BuzzFeed. "If you don't have diversity within parliament you cannot begin to effectively speak for the multicultural society that we are. It inspires many more people to engage in politics, and to believe that their voices are listened to."

Many American politicians on the left are seeing the U.K election as a hopeful sign of what to expect in upcoming elections in the U.S. Through sites such as EMILY's list, a record number of women have expressed interest in running for office around the country — whether at a local, state or federal level. For women who have considered running and remain unsure, the U.K. election should be a sign of what's possible. 

 "We have nothing to compare this to. We have never seen this level of determination for women to have their voices heard," She Should Run co-founder and CEO Erin Cutraro told The Huffington Post last year, adding, "If we want to have an effective country, we're not gonna get there unless women's voices are at the table."

Cover image via LTerlecka  / Shutterstock.

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