Greens call for 35-hour working week

The Green Party voted at its annual congress on Saturday to include demands for a 35-hour work week in its manifesto for this September’s general election.

Greens call for 35-hour working week

The party’s governing board had left the issue vague, arguing only for a shorter working week, but delegates in attendance pushed through a concrete proposal to limit the amount of time spent at work.

Board member openly opposed the move in a debate preceding the vote, arguing the cost to the exchequer would be excessive and would undermine further investments in the welfare system.

But the party’s dual spokespersons, Peter Eriksson and Maria Wetterstrand, rejected the notion that the vote represented a defeat for the party leadership.

“It’s exactly what we’ve proposed and the only question is why we didn’t include it in the first place,” said Wetterstrand.

By way of explanation for the omission, she added that calls for a 35-hour working week could seem unclear in light of the fact that the party’s long-term goal remains to legislate for a 30-hour working week.

Wetterstrand also underlined that the first step in the proposed reform would provide support for parents with young children wishing to cut their working hours on a temporary basis.

The party also voted in favour of introducing an amnesty for illegal immigrants, reiterated its opposition to joining the eurozone, and called for the EU to become more democratic and less centralized.

With the Greens seeking to form a coalition government with the Social Democrats and the Left Party, the heads of both coalition partners put in an appearance at the congress on Sunday morning.

Social Democrat leader Mona Sahlin received a standing ovation when she and Left Party chief Lars Ohly took to the stage in Uppsala.

“When I look at our congress, yours, and the Left Party’s, I see hope for the future, belief in the future and willpower And we dare to say what we want ahead of the election,” said Sahlin.

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Green Party leader: ‘Right-wing parties want to push us out of parliament’

Per Bolund, joint leader of Sweden's Green party, spoke for thirteen and a half minutes at Almedalen before he mentioned the environment, climate, or fossil fuels, in a speech that began by dwelling on healthcare, women's rights, and welfare, before returning to the party's core issue.

Green Party leader: 'Right-wing parties want to push us out of parliament'

After an introduction by his joint leader Märta Stenevi, Bolund declared that his party was going into the election campaign on a promise “to further strengthen welfare, with more staff and better working conditions in healthcare, and school without profit-making, where the money goes to the pupils and not to dividends for shareholders”. 

Only then did he mention the party’s efforts when in government to “build the world’s first fossil-free welfare state”. 

“We know that if we want welfare to work in the future, we must have an answer to our time’s biggest crisis: the threat to the environment and the climate,” he said.

“We know that there is no welfare on a dead planet. We need to take our society into a new time, where we end our dependency on oil, meet the threat to the climate, and build a better welfare state within nature’s boundaries, what we call a new, green folkhem [people’s home].” 

He presented green policies as something that makes cities more liveable, with the new sommargågator — streets pedestrianised in the summer — showing how much more pleasant a life less dependent on cars might be.  

He then said his party wanted Sweden to invest 100 billion kronor a year on speeding up the green transition, to make Sweden fossil fuel-free by 2030. 

“We talk about the climate threat because it’s humanity’s biggest challenge, our biggest crisis,” he said. “And because we don’t have much time.” 

In the second half of his speech, however, Bolund used more traditional green party rhetoric, accusing the other political parties in Sweden of always putting off necessary green measures, because they do not seem urgent now, like a middle-aged person forgetting to exercise. 

“We know that we need to cut emissions radically if we are even going to have a chance of meeting our climate goal, but for all the other parties there’s always a reason to delay,” he said. 

“We are now seeing the curtain go up on the backlash in climate politics in Sweden. All the parties have now chosen to slash the biofuels blending mandate which means that we reduce emissions from petrol and diesel step for step, so you automatically fill your tank in a greener way. Just the government’s decision to pause the  reduction mandate will increase emissions by a million tonnes next year.” 

The right-wing parties, he warned, were also in this election running a relentless campaign against the green party. 

“The rightwing parties seem to have given up trying to win the election on their own policies,” he said. “Trying to systematically push out of parliament seems to be their way of trying to take power. And they don’t seem above any means. Slander campaigns, lies, and false information have become every day in Swedish right-wing politics.” 

He ended the speech with an upbeat note. 

“A better, more sustainable world is possible. There is a future to long for. If you give us a chance then that future is much closer than you think!”

Read the speech here in Swedish and here in (Google Translated) English.