Gudrun Schyman gives a stump speech in Stocholm's Sergel's torg. Photo: Frank Radosevich/Radio Sweden.

Feminist Initiative hopeful in election bid

"I think we have very good chances because we are a huge movement now"
4:49 min

The national elections are coming down to the wire here and one party is hoping to make a splash in the polls. The left-wing Feminist Initiative might be poised to win their first seats in Swedish Parliament. But, election night success is far from assured.

Party leader Gudrun Schyman has been hitting the campaign trail, from the southwest corner of Sweden and up to Sergelstorg, a public square in the heart of Stockholm.

There, before a crowd of some 75 supporters and onlookers, she laid out the reasons why her party, the Feminist Initiative, should be vaulted, for the first time, into the Swedish Parliament.

And if the polls are right, the Feminist Initiative will need some heavy campaigning to gather 4 percent or more of the total votes to clear the threshold to enter into Parliament. An Ipsos poll carried out at the end of August had FI, as the party is also known, just reaching the 4 percent barrier. Previous polls show it falling short – garnering between 2 to 3 and a half percent of the vote.

But, since winning its first seat at the European Parliament in May, the party's climb in the opinion polls has been steady. And Schyman is positive about FI's chances come Sunday.

"I think we have very good chances because we are a huge movement now," Schyman tells Radio Sweden.

She says Sweden was ripe for a party like Fi to thrive. Although the country has long been associated with gender equality and tolerance, she says a more active extreme right has tarnished that image.

And it's Fi's answer to the far-right that has energized some of its voters. Johan Sandberg from Stockholm says he voted for FI in the summer's EU election and already cast his ballot for the party during early voting for the national election. Sandberg says it's Fi's push for equality that drew him to the group.

"The most important thing for me is that we have a community that is equal for everybody," Sandberg says.

But victory on election night is far from assured. Some critics on the left say the FI could end up benefiting the four-party centre-right coalition, by poaching votes from more established opposition groups like the Left Party and the Social Democrats. And that was a concern shared by Stockholmer Lovisa Håland.

Although sporting a pink Fi button, Håland says she's not voting for the party. She says part of her strategic choice was because of Fi's uncertain performance.

"But I really hope a lot of people will vote for them because I would be thrilled if they actually manage to get into Parliament," she says.

At the end of her hour-long stump speech, Schyman told the crowd they had the chance to make history by voting for the party. And afterwards, she predicted that if the party wins a seat in Parliament, the victory would spur other feminist movements around the world.

"This will be written about as a democratic breakthrough that we haven't seen for a long time," she says, "and it will have followers in all the other countries because they have the same problems."

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