Swedes should vote at 16, says top feminist

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Swedes should vote at 16, says top feminist
Gudrun Schyman in Visby this week. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

UPDATED: The co-leader of Sweden’s Feminist Initiative Party has proposed lowering the nation’s voting age in a key speech.


Gudrun Schyman took to the stage in Visby on the island of Gotland on Monday lunchtime, where Sweden’s annual political forum, Almedalen, was held last week.

Since the Feminist Initiative Party (FI) does not have any seats in the Swedish parliament, she was not allowed to make a speech during the official conference, which formally drew to a close on Sunday with Sweden’s Liberal Party dominating the agenda.

But her first appearance on the fringe of the festival has nevertheless hit the Swedish headlines, after she used it to lobby for a lower voting age in Sweden, where people currently cannot go to the polls until they are 18, a move she announced over the weekend to Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN).

“It's too late. You can be 21 or 22 years old before you are voting for the first time,” she told DN.

“We need to lower the voting age so that the average age when voting for the first time is 18 years. This is an important democratic issue,” the FI leader added.

Earlier in the week when asked by the TT news agency if young people were really mature enough to vote at the age of 16, she said: "Research shows that [they are]. People who are aged between 16 and 20 make just as unwise or wise decisions as older people."

READ ALSO: The Local at Almedalen 2015

Schyman has previously caused controversy at Almedalen and famously burned 100,000 kronor in a protest about the gender pay gap in Sweden in 2010.

While her country has a global reputation for championing women's rights, the Feminist Initiative Party argues that Sweden's image as a tolerant, equal society is not a reality. 

Schyman's party has recently been looking at the recent experience of Scotland, where 16-year-olds were given the chance to participate in last year's referendum on whether or not the country should remain part of the United Kingdom.

Sweden’s Green Party has also previously mooted the idea of lowering the voting age in Sweden by two years.

Other issues raised by the FI at Almedalen include its concerns about Sweden exporting weapons to countries with dictatorships and worries that the Nordic nation could end up joining Nato, a move that the party is strongly opposed to.

READ ALSO: Who's who in Swedish politics

While more than 20,000 politicians, economists, entrepreneurs, campaigners and journalists flocked to the Swedish island of Gotland for Almedalen last week, the medieval city of Visby has now largely emptied out, except for FI supporters and residents.

The Local live blogged every party leader’s speech and brought you analysis on some of the key national and international issues being discussed at the conference. Click here to find all the coverage in our special Almedalen 2015 section.


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