Feminist Initiative (F!)

Feminist Initiative (F!). Feminist Initiative is a party founded by the former Left Party leader, Gudrun Schyman.

Schyman had been a fiery and popular leader who drove the Left Party to its best ever result in 1998, when it came third with 12.0% of the vote. She gained credibility for her candour, being highly open about her own struggles with alcoholism.

A strong feminist, under her the Left Party adopted feminism as an official ideology, and she once proposed that the government carry out an assessment of the national cost of male violence against women, and proposed that men be taxed to fill the gap and pay for women’s shelters.

Schyman got into trouble over her taxes in 2003 and left the Left Party leadership as a result. She left her party altogether in 2004 and founded the Feminist Initiative, which she leads to this day.

The party was initially joined by Maria Carlsharme, a Liberal MEP and former Hollywood actress and feminist activist Jane Fonda donated money and campaigned for the party.

The party received a rough ride in the Swedish press who described it as ‘campaigning to abolish marriage’ due to the party’s support for opening the door to polygamy and other non-traditional forms of cohabitation. One member of the party’s executive board, Tiina Rosenberg, a specialist in gender studies at Lund University saw her work accused of being plagiarised and questions raised about money being spent on feminist research.

Aside from its focus on feminism, the F!’s platform is fairly sparse.

The party has been unsuccessful in prior elections, winning 0.7% at the 2006 general election, when it ran a high profile campaign, 2.2% in the 2009 Euros and 0.4% in 2010 in a campaign marked by the party burning 100,000 kronor (around €11,000) in a protest against unequal pay.

However, the party has polled well in the run-up to the election with a recent YouGov poll putting it on 18% (though this appears to be a big outlier), suggesting representation is possible.

It is unclear which group F! might join in the European Parliament but if it decides to join a group, the European Green Party, as the most feminist grouping, is probably the likeliest.