Women in power across Europe

PARIS (AFP): Italy’s far-right leader Giorgia Meloni looks set to join a group of over a dozen European women who hold the top political jobs in their country following her party’s victory in Sunday’s general election.

Here is the list of women presidents and prime ministers, which does not include Ursula von der Leyen, who became the first woman president of the European Commission in December 2019:

In Britain, which is part of Europe but no longer part of the EU, Liz Truss became the new prime minister on September 6. Truss had won the leadership race of the ruling Conservative Party, automatically making her leader of the country after Boris Johnson’s resignation in July.

Truss is Britain’s third woman prime minister after “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher, who was in charge from 1979 to 1990, and Theresa May, who governed from 2016 to 2019 — all Conservatives.

Social Democrat leader Mette Frederiksen became her country’s youngest-ever prime minister in June 2019 when she was elected premier at the age of 41.

Denmark’s first woman prime minister was Helle Thorning-Schmidt, also from the Social Democrats, who served from 2011 to 2015.

Former EU auditor Kersti Kaljulaid, 52, became the first female president of the Baltic state of Estonia in October 2016. The position is a largely ceremonial one.

Kaja Kallas in January 2021 became Estonia’s first woman prime minister. Her father Siim Kallas was prime minister from 2002-2004.

In December 2019, Sanna Marin, a Social Democrat, became the youngest sitting prime minister in the world at the age of 34.

Finland’s third female prime minister has been in the headlines recently over pictures of her dancing and partying with friends.

Elisabeth Borne, a 61-year-old engineer, was named French prime minister in May, becoming only the second woman to hold the position after Edith Cresson, a Socialist, who held the job for less than a year in the early 1990s.

Katerina Sakellaropoulou, a trailblazing lawyer, was elected Greece’s first female president in January 2020.

While the presidency is a mainly ceremonial role in Greece, Sakellaropoulou had already broken new ground in the judiciary by becoming president of the country’s top court in 2018.

Katalin Novak, a close ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orban and former minister for family policy, was elected Hungary’s first ever woman president in March 2022.

The presidency is a largely ceremonial role.

Lithuanian former finance minister Ingrida Simonyte, a 47-year-old rock and ice hockey fan, was appointed prime minister of a center-right government in December 2020.

Lithuania has a strong tradition of female leadership, with “Baltic Iron Lady” Dalia Grybauskaite spending a decade in power from 2009 to 2019.

Liberal lawyer and anti-graft campaigner Zuzana Caputova, 48, took office in June 2019 as Slovakia’s first woman president.

A political novice, she had comfortably beaten the ruling party’s candidate in elections. In Slovakia, the president has less power than the prime minister but can veto laws and appointments of senior judges.

Despite being a country that champions gender equality, Sweden never had a woman as prime minister before Magdalena Andersson, a Social Democrat, who won the top job in November 2021.

She resigned on September 14, 2022 after an unprecedented right-wing and far-right bloc narrowly won the election.

Elsewhere in Europe, outside the EU, other women currently in power are: Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, Kosovo’s president Vjosa Osmani, Moldova’s president and prime minister Maia Sandu and Natalia Gavrilita, Serbia’s openly-gay prime minister Ana Brnabic, and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.