Feminist party founder accused of benefits fraud

After a triumphant launch on Monday, massive media coverage at home and abroad, and a burst of membership, Sweden's new femininist party, Feminist Initiative, has hit its first snag. For the last five years one of its founders and most active participants has been claiming sickness benefit for being "burnt out".

Susanne Linde, 50, went on full time sick leave in 2000 – since when, according to Friday’s Expressen, her income has increased dramatically. In 1998 she earned less than 200,000 kronor. In her first year of sick leave that jumped to 333,000 kronor and even as late as 2003 she earned almost 300,000 kronor.

The paper asked Linde what was going on.

“I don’t understand,” she said. “It feels as though I have less money now. But it’s nice!”

But Expressen wasn’t about to let the matter drop that easily, and asked the hardcore feminist if she really didn’t notice a 100,000 kronor increase in income.

“No, my husband deals with the tax declaration,” she replied.

With a whiff of fraud bound to put a dampener on any launch of a new political movement, Linde manfully countered the allegations in Dagens Nyheter.

She claimed she had been informed by her local social insurance office that a person who is on sick leave may still work up to five hours a week.

“Naturally I’ve followed the relevant rules. If I can manage to work five hours then that’s good.”

Meanwhile, Feminist Initiative’s treasurer, Helena Brandt, has called for funding to support the party in the run-up to the election in September 2006.

“We don’t have the cash to get through the whole campaign and we now hope to get donations, sponsorship and so on,” she told Swedish Radio.

“The money we have is membership fees and membership support,” she added.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Expressen, SR