Bloomberg News

Merkel Whip Says CDU Plan for Women on Boards Trumps Opposition

April 16, 2013

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition will probably defeat an opposition-led push to force large German companies to reserve as many as 40 percent of board seats for women after devising an alternative proposal, the chief whip for Merkel’s bloc said.

Under the agreement, at least 30 percent of the supervisory board of publicly traded companies must be reserved for women from 2020, Michael Grosse-Broemer said. That deal scraps a party commitment made in December for a “flexible” quota system.

Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union caucus agreed on a binding minimum representation for women after some lawmakers, led by Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen, threatened to vote for the opposition-sponsored bill, Bild newspaper reported today.

“We found a good compromise” that also has the support of the women’s lobby in Merkel’s party, Grosse-Broemer told reporters in Berlin today. “As a caucus, one has to make sure to stand united.”

The compromise is a reversal for Merkel, who has previously rejected legally binding steps to ensure more women sit on corporate boards even while expressing frustration at the pace of change under the current voluntary system. Von der Leyen has previously argued for legal measures, saying that voluntary quotas aren’t working.

Dissent in Merkel’s bloc at the April 18 parliamentary vote would risk handing a victory to the Social Democrats and Greens little more than five months before federal elections. The two parties plan to support a bill put forward by the opposition- controlled upper house of parliament that foresees a quota of 20 percent from 2013 and 40 percent from 2018.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rainer Buergin in Berlin at rbuergin1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net


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