Feminist Initiative leader Gudrun Schyman meets activists in Norway. Photo: Mimika Kirgios
The Norway launch shows the party following in the footsteps of Sweden’s Pirate Party, which spawned sister parties in some 40 countries after launching in 2006.
Sunniva Schultze-Florey, one of the Norway founders, told Norway’s Klassekampen newspaper that the party aimed to affect Norwegian politics in the same way as the green party did in the 1990s.
“We want to do the same for feminism as the green party did for the environment: force all parties to take notice of the issue,” she said. “The other parties treat feminism as a side question.”
Gudrun Schyman, the party’s charismatic leader in Sweden, has given her blessing to the new venture.
“I’m convinced that Feminist Initiative is needed in all kinds of ways in every country if we are to bring forward an equal society, free from all types of of discrimination,” she said in a statement announcing the launch in Bergen. “Let's do it!”
The decision to launch in Norway was made last week when Schyman visited Bergen to give one of her Home Party lectures at city’s public library.
Feminist Initiative was established 10 years ago in Sweden but did not have its breakthrough until 2013, when Schyman began giving up to four talks a day in supporters' houses, leading to soaring membership.
The party won 5.3 percent of the vote in the European election in March last year, gaining its first MEP.
In the general election in September, it appeared to have crossed the four percent threshold needed to enter parliament in the first exit polls. But by the time votes were counted it had only secured a disappointing 3.1 percent.
The loss of such a large block of left-wing votes led to Sweden's Green Party polling an unusually low 6.9 percent, weakening Sweden's present red-green coalition government.
Oddny Miljeteig, the Bergen head of Norway’s Socialist Left party, warned that FI risked causing a similar split in Norway, losing much-needed votes if it contests the 2017 election.
“The paradox is that we will get a split on the left where feminism is strong,” she said.
The first priority is for the party to collect 500 signatures in both Bergen and Oslo by March 31, which will qualify it to contest in the county council elections.
The party is holding its launch event in the canteen at Bergen Town Hall on Monday 23 March at 6pm.