Feminists crash May Day parties

Another May 1st, another day of politics and street fighting. But there was something unfamiliar about the celebrations this year - for once, the politicians got more coverage than the window-smashers.

Despite a report in Sunday’s Aftonbladet that “hundreds of armed demonstrators broke through police blockades, smashed windows, vandalised a kiosk and jumped on a car in Östermalm,” the police were said to be satisfied with their day’s work.

“We know that the hooligans were planning some action in Karlaplan,” said police commander Ulf Johansson. “But we kept them under control and when they were on their way there we channelled them into buses.”

So it was left to the politicians to make the headlines, and they didn’t disappoint. First to get stuck in was Lars Ohly, the new leader of the Left Party, who was in fighting form after leading 9,000 supporters from Medborgarplatsen in Stockholm’s Södermalm to Kungsträdgården in the centre of the city.

According to Sunday’s DN, Ohly accused the government of “selling out to the capitalists” through deregulation and privatisation, and said that his party’s willingness to co-operate with the social democrats was under threat.

“It’s unthinkable that Göran Persson and I could stand together on foreign policy,” he said, “when he sits there gazing in adoration at George Bush while he says the USA will continue to bomb the poor people in Fallujah.”

Persson himself was meeting the party faithful in Gothenburg where, said Aftonbladet, “everyone wanted to greet him, give him a rose, hug him and be photographed with him.”

While Persson noted that May 1st was a day to remember Anna Lindh, Aftonbladet focused instead on the fact that he had only eight bodyguards with him.

“Shocking,” said security expert Oliver Wilson. “I’ve worked in security for 15 years and I’ve never heard of anything like it.”

Hopefully Oliver read the next day’s papers, because EU Commissioner Margot Wallström only had three heavies with her when she addressed “a few hundred people in a charmless square in Nacka” while government ministers Pär Nuder and Gunnar Lund addressed audiences unprotected.

But the heavyweight champion of the week was former Left Party leader Gudrun Schyman, whose calls for a feminist party captured the imagination of the press, if not the voters.

“How and when and in what form, I don’t know – but I can see that there is a great need,” she told Swedish Radio, and admitted that she would find it hard to refuse a request to lead such a party.

But while Tuesday’s Svenska Dagbladet confirmed that “plans are under discussion”, it is by no means clear that she would actually be asked.

“Gudrun Schyman is just one of many candidates,” said the paper.

Professor of Political Science Peter Esaiasson believes that an all-female party could change the political map.

“First and foremost, it would threaten the Left Party, the Social Democrats and the Greens,” he told Svenska Dagbladet. “It’s scaring the pants off the established parties.”

That wasn’t the conclusion of Svenska Dagbladet’s straw poll: the paper couldn’t find a single person who thought a feminist party was a good idea.