Socialist voice in low temperature elections
Election campaigns 2004 – Sweden.
Anti-racism and health care our main issues
“Stop racism and save the health care are our two main slogans in the European election campaign”, explains Ingrid Eriksson, city councillor in Umeå, first candidate for Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden) in the European elections 13 June.
Sweden is, alongside Britain, the most EU skeptical country in the EU, according to the EU’s own opinion polls. That is mainly based on the role of the EU in pushing for further cuts in public services. Last September, a big majority, 56 per cent, said ‘no’ to the euro currency. This is also reflected in the present election campaign. Participation is expected to be even lower than in 1999, when it was 39 per cent. Among workers the figure will be even lower.
A unique party
Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna nevertheless didn’t hesitate to stand in the elections. Our party, RS, is unique in so many ways in these elections. RS is the only socialist alternative and the only party to the left of the parliamentary parties. We are the only ones raising workers’ struggle in Europe and local struggle in Sweden in the campaign.
We are organising against racism, both from neo-nazi organisations (there is one fascist and one racist party standing) and from the state towards refugees. Last week, young RS members in a small town in the west of Sweden organised a school strike and march against the neo-nazis, with 400 youth on the protest. We are also involved in a campaign in defence of 600 Somalis threatened with expulsion from the country.
Our other main issue is health care. This year, we have organised protests in Gothenburg, including occupations against the closure of a health centre, and in Umeå against cuts in the regional hospital. 200 took part in a local day of action, including some on strike, in one suburb in Gothenburg on 19 May.
New facts show that the coming years risks being the worst ever regarding cuts in the health sector. This is a key issue for future political developments in Sweden, and part of the struggle to defend the health service is to campaign for the trade unions covering this sector to be fighting and democratic organisations representing the interests of rank and file members whose jobs and conditions are under fierce attack.
Building the party
Our aim is to build the party out of the campaign, and make it more well-known. We have a target to recruit 40 new members in the four-week campaign.
Good election activities are planned around the country. ‘Red car’ tours will go to Kiruna in the far north and 3-4 other cities where party branches do not exist yet. In Umeå, RS has taken the initiative for a demonstration against racism on 5 June.
The peculiar election system in Sweden is very undemocratic. All parties in parliament get free ballot papers and free distribution of those to all polling stations and post offices (you can vote at post offices from 26 May). Our party, on the other hand, has to pay for the ballot papers and distribute them ourselves. That can not be done in advance, so on polling day there are 6,500 polling stations which need our ballot papers from eight in the morning.
We are therefore forced to organise people to assist with the ballot papers. This has been done with good results so far. For the postal voting, we have election workers in 77 councils (there are 280), among them the 25 biggest and all regional centers. Many of our new election workers are from the 2,100 subscribers to our weekly paper.