How the EU elections sparked a debate about women's rights in Sweden

Within the EU, Sweden is usually rated highly for women's rights. But the European Parliament elections revealed how far the country still has to come, in more ways than one.

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards NewsMavens, Sweden
How the EU elections sparked a debate about women's rights in Sweden - NewsMavens
Lars Adaktusson, European People's Party - EPP Congress Madrid - 22 October, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

All of Sweden's major political parties except for the far-right Sweden Democrats openly declare themselves to be feminist.

But several politicians from other parties have called for a senior sitting Christian Democrat MEP to be removed from the party's leadership, after he was revealed to have voted against the right to abortion 22 times in the European Parliament. The party's official line is that it supports Swedish abortion law but that it wants to work to reduce the number of abortions and unplanned pregnancies.

Meanwhile, within the Sweden Democrats, allegations that its top candidate had groped a party colleague led to another senior Sweden Democrat being ousted from the party for speaking to the media about the groping.

A police investigation has been opened into sexual harassment, but the suspect remains the party's top candidate.

Details from the story:

  • In Sweden, women have the right to abortion for any reason within the first 18 weeks of pregnancy
  • Christian Democrat Lars Adaktusson voted against the right to abortion 22 times in the European Parliament. He voted in favour four times, and abstained twice.
  • In the same votes, MEPs from Sweden's other parties voted in favour except the Sweden Democrats, who abstained in 12 votes, voted in favour in 12, and against in one vote.
  • The Sweden Democrats released a video of the politician accused of groping, together with the women whom he had allegedly groped, in which he apologized for his behaviour and she said: "It's unfortunate that it became as stupid as it did".
  • The candidate accused of groping has reported a party colleague to police for slander after she spoke about the allegations with a Swedish newspaper


Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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