Tuesday

6th Dec 2016

Focus

Swedish Feminist party's EP seat due to larger-than-life leader

  • Gudrun Schyman - credited with making it obligatory for all Swedish politicians to be feminists (Photo: Lars Lundqvist)

The success of the Feminist Initiative (FI) in gaining one seat in the European Parliament – or 5.49 percent of the Swedish votes – is credited entirely to its leader: Gudrun Schyman.

She became a public figure in 1993 when she took over as leader of the Left party (the former Communist party), shocking its members with her high heels, red lips and insistence that they were now a feminist party.

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Her many critics were silenced by the fact that she swiftly doubled the party's representation in the Swedish parliament (reaching an historical 12 percent of the votes).

Schyman started the Feminist Initiative in 2005 and has continually shocked her audience by being financed by a billionaire business man, burning €10,000 in public just to make a point and claiming that discrimination in Sweden is the same as practised by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Public acknowledgement of her alcoholism or disclosure of tax evasion have not hurt the outspoken Schyman in the eyes of the voters.

Schyman was therefore naturally the focus of the FI's campaign for the European elections even though she did not run herself.

The Feminist Initiative first ran for parliament in 2006. They did not win a seat but at one point looked set to win 15 percent of the votes. This had all the established political parties scrambling to declare themselves feminists too.

Since then being a feminist has been a "must" in Swedish politics.

FI's political message is that gender issues can and should be applied to everything in society and that society should recognise how much of it is ruled by male structures.

In 2006, Schyman proposed a tax on men to pay for violence committed against women, arguing that nobody objected to men being paid higher salaries solely because they are men, so paying higher taxes for being a man would be logical.

(Her exact quote was: "Nobody's shocked that men get a 'willy bonus' on their salaries.")

The FI politician who is actually heading to the EP is less well-known, but just as strong-minded. Soraya Post, an entrepreneur, has been a Roma activist for decades.

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