Mikael Gustafsson: pushing for a left turn in Europe

Mikael Gustafsson: pushing for a left turn in Europe
If elected to the EU Parliament, Mikael Gustafsson’s to-do list involves a wide variety of topics: he says hopes to stimulate change in issues of climate, free trade and gender equality amongst others.

However, Gustafsson says that casting a ballot for him signifies a vote in support of the Left Party, and not him personally as a potential MEP.

“Nobody in the Left Party is in favour of personal campaigns, we think you should vote for the party,” Gustafsson explains. “Of course you can feel more inclined to vote for one person, I understand. But you shouldn’t exactly vote for me first, but the party first. That’s the most important message I’d like to say.”

Gustafsson says he first became interested in politics when he was 13, and joined the Social Democrat youth organization (SSU) when he was 18. Four years later he joined the Left Party and has been a member ever since. He says he hopes people appreciate the value of democracy and the weight of their decision on voting day.

“Election time is the only time when human value is equal to all other people and values,” Gustafsson says. “Normally power is directly connected to how much money you have. But it’s one person, one vote. And if you don’t vote, you are saying other people have the right to choose for you what values you have.”

If elected, he hopes to improve climate problems by helping forge treaties on carbon dioxide and pollution reduction. The UN Climate Change Conference is scheduled for December 2009, and he says the EU Parliament will play an important role at the meeting where the opportunity to effect change will be paramount.

“We have to take financial and social leadership in making change,” Gustafsson says. “People think climate issues are environmental issues, but they are also very much social issues. It’s here and our lifestyle that created these problems, not developing countries.”

He says he also advocates for taking a gendered perspective on politics, especially in the EU Parliament that has a representation that is 70 per cent male and 30 per cent female. Gustafsson says he also hopes to increase fair trade and to apply legislation from developed to developing countries.

“Normally people think the EU doesn’t affect their day-to-day issues,” he explains. “But about 70 per cent of decisions made there are directly and indirectly coming here to Sweden.”

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