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01/09/2016

Swedish feminist party tipped for first EU Parliament seat

EU Elections 2014

Swedish feminist party tipped for first EU Parliament seat

Gudrun Schyman, the leader of the Feminist Initiative in Sweden, speaks in Stockholm on 8 March. [Mimika Kirgios/Flickr]

The Feminist Initiative (FI), a Swedish party, may win its first seat in the European Parliament, according to the latest opinion polls published in the national press.

FI is currently polling at 4.3% of votes in Sweden, just above the 4% threshold required to win one of the country’s 20 seats in the parliament. In 2009, the party got 2.2% of votes.

“This is an incredible development when the party got less than 1% of the votes in the last general election,” said Drude Dahlerup, a professor of political science with a focus on gender at Stockholm University. The party doesn’t have loyal voters but its approval ratings are lifted by its charismatic party leader Gudrun Schyman, Dahlerup told TV-station SVT.

But she added some voters might be disappointed when they realise that Schyman is not on the party’s list of candidates for the election.

The feminist party, founded in 2006, has staged controversial political “happenings” in the past, like in July 2010 when it burned 100,000 Swedish crowns (€11,089) in protest against the gender pay gap. Schyman also attracted attention in 2004 when she proposed to introduce what the media dubbed as a “man tax” to collectively punish males for violence against women.

Schyman is a former leader of the Left Party in Sweden, suggesting the FI is most likely to join the European United Left–Nordic Green Left parliamentary group if it wins a seat.

Background

The European elections will be held in all EU countries in May 2014. The Lisbon Treaty states that the European Parliament shall elect the commission president on the basis of a proposal made by the European Council, taking into account the European elections (Article 17, Paragraph 7 of the TEU). This will apply for the first time in the 2014 elections.

The European Parliament, parties and many others have pushed for European political parties to nominate their front-runners in the election campaigns. This will make the European elections a de facto race for commission president, politicise the campaigns and could increase voter turnout, they say.

But others have argued that the European parties’ push for their own candidates may not be the best solution. Raising expectations could easily lead to disappointment, Herman Van Rompuy has repeatedly said, calling for caution in case the council chooses another candidate than the winning party’s frontrunner.

Timeline

  • 22-25 May: European Parliament elections

Further Reading