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One in five Swedes could vote for feminist party

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09:13 CET+01:00
A fifth of Swedes would consider voting for the country's first lady of feminism, Gudrun Schyman, if she were to establish her own political party.

After her departure from the Left Party last week, Schyman was surrounded by speculation as to whether she would set up a party aimed solely at women's issues.

Consequently, in an opinion poll commissioned by Dagens Nyheter, 19 per cent said they would consider backing an all-new Schyman style party.

Results of the survey were soaked up by Sweden's resident newspapers on Saturday. From the 1016 people questioned, the broadest support comes, naturally, from female voters.

The results come as no surprise to Social Democrat party secretary, Marita Ulvskog, who has been paving the way for a feminist network within the ruling reds.

"I think that many women know that we support their issues," she told Saturday's DN. "Now it's time for the three feminist parties in Parliament to prove it."

The study shows that the strongest support for Schyman is within parties which Ulvskog considers feminist - the Social Democrats, the Left and the Green Party.

A third of Left Party voters polled and more than half of Green Party sympathisers say they would shift to support Schyman. Meanwhile a quarter of Social Democrat voters in the survey would also consider backing her in the role.

However, Ulvskog says the creation of a 'Schyman party' could have an adverse affect for women and Swedish politics as a whole by splitting the feminist vote.

"In the worst case, it could mean that the Social Democrats lose voters while the feminist parties don't get into Parliament. Then the Moderates and the Christian Democrats would be deciding the policies for women in Sweden."

"That would be awful and a consequence which Gudrun Schyman is well aware of," added Ulvskog.

Writing in Aftonbladet, the author and commentator Liza Marklund dismissed Schyman's political position as "populist showmanship".

"It's easy to elicit quick applause with banter and acerbic one-liners, but it doesn't build confidence in the long run," she argued.

"To declare that all men are guilty of all rapes, that all men are guilty of violence against women - that's not just offensive and wrong; if the purpose is to get anywhere with this issue it's just plain stupid."

Schyman herself is keeping shtum about her possible return to party leadership as she told DN, "I have nothing more to say than what I have said before." And that isn't very much. However, she did say the show of support was "tremendously gratifying but not surprising".

The question is whether Schyman has enough support to secure her party's seat in Parliament. The answer is no according to Peter Esaiasson, professor in political science at Gothenburg University.

"The support is a necessity, and the basic conditions are there - but it depends on a lot more as well," he told DN.

"Apart from all the organisational aspect, there has to be financial support and the party must get media scope."

As Saturday's Svenska Dagbladet pointed out, before the country gets carried away on the feminist bandwagon it's worth noting that only five per cent of people polled said they would definitely vote for Schyman. Others concluded a feminist party with Schyman at the helm was a conceivable idea.

Perhaps Sweden's male population can stop fretting. Let us not forget that Schyman still has her debts to pay - to the Left Party as well as the honest tax-paying public - which could hinder her return to party leadership.

As reported in Friday's DN, in the same week she jumped ship from the Left she was sent an invoice from Left HQ for monies outstanding.

The reminder asked her to pay back the 22,000 crowns she ´borrowed´ for the lavish bash she threw for her own 50th birthday in October 2003.

That followed a previous number of careless tax declarations which were highly publicised. They contributed to the downfall of Schyman's reign as Left party leader in January 2003 and bill of more than 100,000 crowns.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen

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