While the United States considered the African National Congress a terrorist organization, the Swedish government openly funded the group for decades. According to many accounts, Sweden was the largest single source of financial aid to the ANC. Olof Palme, the Swedish prime minister, was assassinated in 1986 just a week after he gave a keynote speech at the Swedish People’s Parliament Against Apartheid in Stockholm. Rumors have swirled for years about the South African government’s involvement in his killing. Shortly after he was released in 1990, Nelson Mandela came to Sweden on one of his first foreign stops after being released from prison. During an address to the Swedish Parliament, Mandela thanked Sweden for standing in the "front ranks of the international forces that have fought against the apartheid system." On Wednesday night, one of Mandela’s closest associates, Ahmed Kathrada, spoke in the Swedish town of Visby, which is hosting the week-long political festival Almedalen Week. Kathrada spent 26 years in prison, including 18 years on Robben Island.
Sweden is in the middle of a "super election year" with elections taking place for the European Parliament, as well as local and national elections. After eight years of a right-wing government, our guest says the balance of power is set to shift to a red-green alliance between the country’s Left Party and Green Party. "There is a lot at stake for a lot of people," says Andreas Gustavsson, editor-in-chief of the daily Swedish newspaper Dagens ETC. He discusses key issues in the election, and recent protests against the Party of the Swedes, a neo-Nazi party whose members oppose immigration and have joined in fighting alongside fascist groups in Ukraine.
As we broadcast from Almedalen Week, a unique political festival in Sweden, we are joined by Jonas Sjöstedt, Swedish chairperson of the Left Party and member of the Swedish parliament. Sjöstedt describes the Left Party as a modern Socialist left-wing party with roots in the labor movement and a new focus on tackling climate change and privatization. "Sweden has become kind of an experiment for privatization, especially in the education system, in healthcare and the homes for the elderly," Sjöstedt says. "We want to ban all profit-making companies from these welfare sectors."
In May, Sweden’s Feminist Initiative party won a seat in the European Parliament, becoming the first feminist party in history to do so. We are joined by the party’s co-founder, Gudrun Schyman, a former member of the Swedish parliament. Schyman talks about the Feminist Initiative’s focus on climate change, anti-racism and connecting the violence in intimate relationships to the violence in international relations. "The patriarch structure is global, and it shows in all fields of society, in your intimate relations, in the labor market," Schyman says. "We have to ban violence, and we have to see that the role of violence is always control, always power."
Former U.S. congressmember and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich speaks to Democracy Now! while in Sweden to observe the political festival Almedalen Week, which brings together people from all points on the political spectrum. Kucinich says the United States needs a similarly inclusive political process. "You come here and you see so many different political persuasions represented, and our politics back at home are monochromatic," Kucinich says. "We need to awaken those sentiments in America and one way to do it is proportional representation." On the crisis in Iraq, Kucinich says: "If we learned anything from our experience, it should be that interventionism is not the wave of the future." Kucinich served in the in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1997 to 2013, and ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 and 2012.
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