By Padmini Parthasarathy
Much of this week’s European parliament election took a turn for the radical. France’s far-right Front National won the largest share of French seats. The extreme right and EU skeptics also gained ground in Germany. But there was a different kind of shake up in Sweden. For the first time in European history, Sweden is sending one representative from a feminist party.
Soraya Post is a member of the Feminist Initiative (Fi). It is also worth noting that she is Roma, a minority that is widely discriminated against in Europe. The Fi was founded in 2005 by Gudrun Schyman, a charismatic politician who has made headlines for burning cash to protest wage discrimination. Schyman defected from the Swedish Left Party after becoming disgruntled with their lack of attention to feminist issues.
Fi got 5% of the vote. The party’s goal "in every aspect and area and aspect of life [is to pose] a challenge to patriarchy." The Fi platform encompasses the fight for equal pay, an end to violence against women and trafficking, a campaign against double standards of sexuality, and freedom from discrimination for women minorities.
"Many people see Sweden as a kind of paradise for women in Europe. But that's a myth. We have a gender gap, violence against women," Schyman told Reuters.
The Fi has some famous backers. Jane Fonda and Eve Ensler have both expressed public support for the party. So has Abba member Benny Andersson.
This election has been emblematic of the tension in Europe between extreme liberalism and the conservative backlash against immigration. Fi’s campaign slogan, "Out With Racists, In With Feminists!" seems to have worked for them this time.