May Day: Local, National & International Issues Manifest on the Streets


First May, the Labour’ Day or Worker’s Day or International Workers’ Day, was honoured with rallies by different political and social groups in Gothenburg. 1 May is one of the days in Gothenburg when the public transport is suspended in the key streets and squares of the city from both the sides of Järntorget and Avenyn.

Most of the groups gathered at Järntorget and marched towards Gustav Adolf Torg and Götaplatsen chanting slogans and playing music. The visible political parties in the rally were the Social Democrats, the Left and the Communist Party. In the last General Elections held in Sweden on 9 September 2018, the Social Democratic Party got 28.26% of the total votes (100 seats in the Parliament) – still, it is the single largest party, and the Left Party got 8% (28 seats). Because the Social Democratic Party could not form the government on its own, even the support of the Green Party (4.41% = 16), the Social Democrats (sossar) got an indirect support from the Centre Party (8.61% = 31 seats) and the Liberal Party (5.49% = 20 seats) and managed to form the government in January 2019.

Professor Per Månson from Gothenburg University said that the demonstrations on first May was participated by the three political parties – the Social Democrats, the Left and the Communists but the Social Democrats were getting smaller. He said, “The presence of Social Democratic party is even smaller (this year) because they have made an agreement with the Liberal party and the Center party in Riksdag (the Swedish Parliament) and very many especially from the trade union side are very angry. Because this coalition behind the Social Democratic party wants to change the rules for workers…It is very interesting to see how small the governing party will be.”

The participants on behalf of the Left Party in the march echoed the streets with their slogans: “Ropen skal – A Gothenburg for ALL! … Amnesty for everyone! … No maids for the upper class, let them scour their own toilets … Everything you (have) stolen – we shall have again … Crush, crush capitalism! Long live socialism! … No streets, no squares, for Nazis in Gothenburg …”

Ina Lundström, a journalist and cultural critic, stressed the significance of May Day for Gothenburg for it ‘has been quite a long time a strong working (class) movement, it has quite a lot of significance not only politically but also like culturally. This area we are now standing now, Järntorget, this is the hub of working class movement in Gothenburg and almost in Sweden. We are just talking about the house you see here … it is used to be the workers’ house and that was tore down and built with this house in 60s’.


“I think a lot of the work done by the city council of Gothenburg is to attract people from more businesses and less industry. So in that transition from being an industrial city it is changing to an event city. I think the image is not changing as radically as the reality is,” said Ina Lunström. “Gothenburg people still feel it is a harbour city and working class city in many ways but the reality is…I am not sure.”

Iranians living in Sweden was the single most visible group at Järntorget. With placards and brochures and posters, they expressed their anger against the Iranian regime for its anti-people and anti-freedom rule. And, there were Turks protesting against Erdogan’s regime, and a unit asking the US President Donal Trump to keep away from Venezuela.

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