Feminist Initiative (Sweden)
|Leader||Gudrun Schyman, Stina Svensson, Sissela Nordling Blanco (spokespersons)|
|Founded||3 April 2005|
|Youth wing||Young Feminists|
|Political position||Centre-left to Left-wing|
|European Parliament group||Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats|
|Politics of Sweden
Feminist Initiative (Swedish: Feministiskt initiativ, abbreviated Fi or F!) is a feminist political party in Sweden. The party was formed (from a previous pressure group of the same name) in 2005, and announced on 9 September 2005 that it would put up candidates for the 2006 parliamentary elections in Sweden.
After running in the consequent two Riksdag elections, as well as the European Parliamentary election of 2009, Fi had not taken any seats in either parliament. The European elections of 2014 proved a turning point, as the party attracted 5.3% of the Swedish vote, with Soraya Post taking one seat in the European Parliament. This marks the first time an exclusively feminist political party won a seat in the European Parliament.
In the 2014 general election, Fi received a best-ever 3.1% of the vote; despite not meeting the 4.0% threshold for getting seats, Fi became the most popular party outside of parliament.
Founding of the pressure group
The original pressure group was presented at a press conference in Stockholm on 4 April 2005. The announcement was preceded by a large number of rumours of a new feminist party. In particular, the rumours were concerned with the growing feminist movement around Gudrun Schyman, a former leader of the Swedish Left Party and at that time independent member of the Riksdag. Schyman is one of Sweden's most prominent political feminists and had attracted attention when she in 2004 asked how society and men would take responsibility for the violence against women. This question came in the form of an investigation, which was dubbed "man tax" by Swedish journalists since they assumed that was how the problem would be resolved.
At the press conference the founding members stressed that Fi was not yet a political party. The question on whether or not to stand for elections was postponed until further notice. In 2008 it was stated that the organisation was a political party that will stand for elections. In 2009 Feminist Initiative stood for the European Parliament election and got 2.2 percent. In 2010 they stand for the national, regional and local elections.
Founding of the political party
Following the introduction of the pressure group, things happened quickly. Six days later the Fi website announced that the association now had more than 2500 members. Regional and local groups of Fi were announced on the website regularly. Fi's first annual national conference was to be held in Örebro on the 9–11 September 2005 and some 200 motions were submitted.
The inaugural assembly gathered some 350 members (still lacking a formal structure the participants choose to regard themselves as independent members rather than delegates from regions or local groups). The agenda included three major decisions: the establishing of a political party, formulation of a party agenda and organisational matters (notably a decision on chairperson). On 9 September 2005 the decision was taken to organise as a political party and stand for the parliamentary general election 2006. Media also focused attention on what came to be called "the decision to campaign to abolish marriage" and the current state-recognised cohabiting partnerships, and instead introduce a new Cohabitation Act (Swedish: sammanlevnadsbalk) which would encompass a new legal status for private relationships between more than two people, irrespective of gender, thereby possibly opening up for polygamy. In reality, the decision was to enlarge the marriage law, so as to include any form of voluntary cohabitation.
Regarding the organisational matters, the conference decided to appoint three executive committee members as their spokespersons (Swedish: talesperson). So far it has, however, not been made clear to the public what the powers and functions of these spokespersons are. It was also decided that men can hold offices within Fi, upon which two men were elected to the executive committee.
Interest from the media has been unusually keen, and mostly negative. Government money for feminist research projects has been questioned and Professor Tiina Rosenberg was accused of plagiarism by political scientist Johan Tralau, citing a 2000 book review of Rosenberg's "Byxbegär" ('Wearing the trousers'). After a review of the alleged errors in the book, Rosenberg's faculty at the Stockholm University deemed the matter unnecessary to investigate further. Rosenberg left Fi October 2005, citing media attention and criticism directed toward her research and person as the reason, claiming to be the target of a deliberate antifeminist campaign instigated by right-wing lobbyists. Some of the statements attributed to Tiina Rosenberg, such as "women who have sex with men are traitors to their sex" were criticized as too radical for the party by some other leading Fi members like Susanne Linde and Ebba Witt-Brattström as well. This led to worsening personal conflicts within the party, with both Linde and Witt-Brattström distancing themselves from the party.
In the days before the Swedish election on 17 September 2006, American actress Jane Fonda came to Sweden to support the party's election campaign.
Public support and election results
According to surveys made in 2005, as many as 10% might vote for the party. However, in the 2006 general election, the party got only 0.68%. The reason for Fi's drop in popularity is believed by some to have been a result of increased radicalism in its platform and its activities. A party needs 4% to get into the Riksdag. In the 2009 European elections, the party improved its result, getting 2.2% of the national vote. This was not enough to get a seat in the European Parliament. It has been speculated that one reason for the improvement was the 1,000,000 Swedish kronor donation made to the party by former ABBA member Benny Andersson.
In the 2010 election Fi saw a slump in support compared to 2006, falling from 0.68% to 0.40% of the vote. Fi did however managed to become the third biggest party in the southern municipality of Simrishamn with 8.9% of the votes, giving them 4 seats in the city council.
The 2014 European Parliament election proved to be the party's most successful election so far, as the party attracted 5.3% of the national vote in Sweden, with Soraya Post taking one seat as an MEP. In June 2014, the party announced that its single MEP would join the Socialists and Democrats group in the European parliament.
They appeared in the 2014 Swedish General Election on 14 September. In its campaign, the party was supported by American recording artist Pharrell Williams. Despite missing the electoral threshold, the Fi received the largest share of votes outside of parliament. It also greatly increased its share of representation in the councils of both counties and municipalities, gaining seats in 13 out of 27 county councils.
Defection to the party
First Executive Committee
The first Executive Committee included Ann-Marie Tung, Anna Jutterdal, Cecilia Chrapkowska, Gudrun Schyman, Helena Brandt, Lotten Sunna, Maria Jansson, Monica Brun, Monica Amante, Sandra Andersson, Sandra Dahlén, Sofia Karlsson and Tiina Rosenberg.
In 2005 Jane Fonda and Eve Ensler supported Fi by joining the election tour in Sweden. Jane Fonda also donated 400,000 Swedish Kronor for the campaign. In 2009 Benny Andersson, one of the members of the group ABBA, donated one million kronor for the European Parliament campaign.
In July 2010, the party burned 100,000 Swedish kronor ($13,000; £8,500) in a protest against unequal pay. Fi wanted to draw attention to its proposal for a government fund for equal pay. The money that was burned had been donated by the advertising agency Studio Total, and the event got major publicity around the world. In 2010, the Swedish electro group The Knife also donated money to the party.
- The decision to run for election to the Swedish parliament was taken at congress 9 September 2005.
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- Åsa Lundqvist (2011). Family Policy Paradoxes: Gender Equality and Labour Market Regulation in Sweden, 1930-2010, p.126
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- "Allmänna val, valresultat". Statistics Sweden.
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- "Tiina om Ebba: "Hon ska ha en fet smäll"". Expressen.se. September 27, 2006. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
- "Avhopp från Feministiskt Initiativ". SvD.se. September 12, 2005. Retrieved 2014-07-16.
- Ekman, Ivar (20 October 2005). "Swedish feminism put to the test". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-20.
- Fi ska ingå i den socialdemokratiska gruppen i EU-parlamentet · Feministiskt initiativ
- "Valprognosen: Feministiskt initiativ kan bli vågmästare - Valåret 2014 - Nyheter - Aftonbladet". Aftonbladet. Retrieved 13 September 2014.
- Orange, Richard (14 September 2014). "Pharrell Williams supports feminist party leader in Sweden". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
- "Convicted Liberal defects to feminists - The Local". Thelocal.se. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
- Carl Magnus Palm (20 February 2014). Abba: Bright Lights Dark Shadows. Music Sales Limited. p. 833–. ISBN 978-1-78323-049-5.
- "Swedish feminists burn cash in wage equality protest". BBC News. 6 July 2010. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- Feministiskt initiativ (In English)