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Gains for gay marriage foes in church elections

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Gains for gay marriage foes in church elections
08:58 CEST+02:00
Opponents of same-sex marriage made significant gains in Sweden's church elections on Sunday, on a voter turnout of barely 12 percent.

Both far-right Sweden Democrats as well as Frimodig kyrka, a party within the church which advocates against gender-neutral church marriages, nearly doubled their representation in the national General Synod.

The election's losers included the Centre Party, the Moderates, and the Liberals in the Church of Sweden (Folkpartister i Svenska Kyrkan - FISK).

“I'm sitting here with my heart in my throat. We had a great campaign, but it still wasn't enough,” said Karin Perers, chair of the Centre Party's General Synod group, to the TT news agency.

She didn't want to believe there was any connection between the church election and next year's parliamentary elections, but admitted that the thought had crossed her mind.

And Dag Tuvelius, editor of the Kyrkans Tidning newspaper, was quick point out the significance of the church election results

“They can also be an indication of how things will look for the parliamentary elections,” he told TT.

The number of Frimodig kyrka representatives will increase from seven to 13, while the Sweden Democrats increased their representation from four to seven.

Jan-Anders Ekelund, head of Frimodig kyrka, hailed the election results, claiming his party's success was due to clarity on a number of issues, including the right to church weddings and party politics.

“We want marriage between a man and a woman to be preserved and we don't believe in the political party polarization of the church,” he said.

In addition, the pro-gay marriage Greens in the Church of Sweden (Miljöpartister i Svenska kyrkan) also boosted their number of places in the General Synod from four to eight representatives.

Meanwhile, the Social Democrats' number of representatives remained unchanged at 71, and the Left Party also held onto its three places.

But the Centre Party's number of representatives dropped from 41 to 35, while the Moderates lost four places, bringing their tally down to 41. In addition, FISK lost two places, dropping from 15 representatives down to 13.

Of the 5.6 million voters eligible to participate in church elections, about 11.8 percent made it out to the polls, roughly the same percentage as in the last church elections held in 2005.

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