Sweden gains its first feminist MEP, who is also a Roma

Soraya Post: “Replace the racists with feminists!” 

Well, she certainly looks different.

The European Parliament has its first member elected on a feminist ticket. Soraya Post, 57, won to become the Sweden Feminist Initiative party’s first elected MEP with 5.3% of the vote.

The human rights activist, who is also Sweden’s first Roma MEP, plans to draw attention to women’s issues and to fight the rise of the far right in European politics.

In an interview with New York magazine a few days before the vote she said: “The real right-wing, Nazi, fascist parties are growing very fast in Europe. For me, it is a great honour to represent the feminist party.

“We have been very, very clear as the force against racists and fascists in Europe. We want to change the agenda [in the European Parliament] to be gender equal at all levels.

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“Our priority is that feminist perspective increases in all these political areas, including the budget, and we want to develop the democracy in a way that is based and grounded in human rights.”

Ms Post is the first politician elected under the party’s banner since it was founded in 2005.

Maria Carlshamre, an MEP from the socially liberal but fiscally conservative Liberal People’s Party, defected to the Feminist Initiative party in 2006 but lost her seat in the 2009 elections.

Ms Post’s victory represents a meteoric rise for the tiny party, which polled only 0.4% of the vote in the Swedish general election in 2010.

The Feminist Initiative’s campaign portrayed itself as a counterweight to the rise of far right extremism with the slogan “Replace the racists with feminists!”

Far right and Eurosceptic parties have largely been the winners of the election across Europe with Marine Le Pen’s National Front topping the French poll for the first time since 1972.

Official estimates suggest that 131 seats out of 751 – 17% – will go to anti-EU parties.