Hillevi Larsson: an egalitarian voice from the south
Lydia Parafianowicz · 28 May 2009, 15:19
Published: 28 May 2009 15:19 GMT+02:00
“I was 17 years old and interested in music, not politics,” Larsson recalls. “But we had a problem with ventilation at my school and it was very hot in the rooms.”
One day, the Social Democratic youth organization (SSU) made a presentation at the school, discussing the power of young people to effect change.
“I investigated the ventilation problem to find a solution, and then was inspired to join the organization,” Larsson says. “It was a wake-up call for me. I realized that politics isn’t coming from just the big men, debating on TV and deciding people’s welfare. I can make a difference myself.”
Larsson says being a member taught her confidence and courage, and remembers a time when she was too afraid to speak at an SSU national conference. After missing her chance, she made a personal vow to speak at the next years’ conference – a vow she kept.
“I was nervous, but I did it, and people even applauded,” Larsson recalls. “If the ventilation system hadn’t broken down and the youth organization hadn’t visited, I probably wouldn’t have joined and be politically active.”
Larsson has now worked in the Swedish parliament for 10 years, and says her biggest achievements have involved improving equality for women, immigrants, handicapped people and homosexuals. She says she’s helped create legislation to give homosexuals the right to marry in a church or through state-run ceremonies, plus adopt children.
“I am heterosexual, and think this is an important issue about human rights,” Larsson says. “You don’t have to be personally affected to think this is discrimination. It’s not just a lobby group fighting for their own interest; it’s an interest for a broader amount of politicians who think it’s important with human rights and non-discrimination.”
If elected to the EU Parliament, she also wants to restructure the union's financial priorities. They EU now gives 50 per cent of its budget to agriculture, which leads to over-production and waste.
“We need to take money from the agriculture sector and put it in future investments, to modernize Europe and get more jobs,” Larsson explains. “We have the green sector replacing old things like coal burning, so we need new research to develop things that work in reality.”
Larsson says she hopes to increase high-speed train travel in Sweden, to act as a more eco-friendly competitor to driving or flying and create employment. She also wants to increase a more highly developed job sector in Sweden that’s a leader in Europe.
Larsson promotes herself as the only Social Democratic party candidate from the south of Sweden. She says she knows all about the issues from this area, like Skåne’s discrimination, immigrant labour competition, poisonous water problems, sex trafficking, and illegal drugs and alcohol. She says it is necessary to increase cooperation between Sweden and Denmark, to improve border crossing and development.
“I think it’s important for people in the south of Sweden to have their own representative,” Larsson says. “And I also think, for democratic reasons, it’s good to have young females represented in politics.”