Election Q&A: the Social Democratic Party

Social Democratic Party Secretary Ibrahim Baylan answers some questions from The Local about the party's stance on a few key issues.

The Local: Why should someone vote for your party?

Ibrahim Baylan: This is an election of destiny. It will determine the course that Sweden will take in the future. Should we have four years of tax cuts for the wealthiest or should we have a Sweden that invests in new jobs and better quality schools and health care? Our goal is that Sweden will become a land of opportunity for all, where each and every one – regardless of background – gets the chance to realise their dreams.

TL: What is this election about? What is the key question facing Swedish voters?

IB: We must ensure that more people have a job to go to. Today, there are too few job opportunities for job seekers. Our youth unemployment is one of Europe’s highest. The number of long-term unemployed has increased dramatically – nearly one in three who are currently unemployed have been unemployed long-term. The economy runs a deficit when taxes are cut with borrowed money. The wealth gaps between people increase. We Social Democrats want to reverse the trend.

TL: What is your party going to do about this issue?

IB: In times of high unemployment, people should have the opportunity to acquire new skills so that they can take on new jobs when the economy improves. We want to invest in climate-smart solutions, housing, infrastructure, research and education. This will result in more businesses and new jobs.

More jobs means a better economy. We can then improve the quality of health care and schools – and diminish the widening gaps. It is smarter to solve problems together than to pit the young against the elderly, the sick against the healthy, men against women and the unemployed against those who have jobs. Sweden gains through equality.

TL: What does your party see as the key to helping non-Swedes successfully establish themselves in Sweden?

IB: Language and jobs are the important keys to integration. It takes too long for newly arrived refugees and immigrants to enter the labour market. New arrivals should be entitled to an individual establishment plan. It would include an analysis of new arrivals’ previous education and skills. A successful job policy plays a key role in breaking segregation.

A higher quality for [the immigrant language training programme] Swedish for Immigrants (Svenska för invandrare, SFI) and higher enrollment in schools are important parts of our new integration policy. Accordingly, we would invest in improving SFI.

TL: What do you say to foreign students who come here to study, but find it hard to find a job?

IB: We want all education to result in good access to the labor market and good opportunities for securing an internship. As such, we want to provide directed support to educational institutions for more internships and strengthened requirements so students can receive credit in their post-secondary programmes for their work experience. Internships can be a good way to transition into employment after graduation.

TL: What is your party’s top foreign policy issue?

IB: An equitable world is possible and is based on international law. Our international laws should apply to all countries whether big or small. We want to strengthen the United Nations’ ability to act both in acute crises and to face the long-term global challenges the world faces.

The EU should be used for greater global justice. An equitable world is also based on generous aid and in free, fair and sustainable trade.

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PM: Social Democrats could decide on Nato on May 15th

Sweden's Prime Minister has said that her party has brought forward the date for a decision on Nato membership by ten days, meaning a decision could be in place before a state visit by Finland's president in mid-May.

PM: Social Democrats could decide on Nato on May 15th

The decision had previously been tabled for a meeting of the party board on May 24th, but could now be taken at an extra meeting of the Social Democrats ruling committee on May 15th, Magdalena Andersson said at a press conference on Thursday. 

“We will of course discuss the issue and then we can see if we feel ready to take a decision or not,” she said at a Ukraine donors’ conference in Warsaw. 

She said that the security guarantees Sweden has received from the US and Germany for the period between a possible application and full Nato membership were significant. 

“It means a lot if Sweden chooses to send in an application, that we will be safer during the period up until we become members than we otherwise would be,” she said. 

“The party committee can take a decision then,” Party secretary Tobias Baudin he told Sweden’s TT newswire of the May 15th meeting. 

The meeting will come just two days after the Swedish government’s ‘security policy analysis group’, which includes representatives from all political parties, is due to submit its own reassessment of Sweden’s security situation. 

“It depends on what the security policy dialogue shows,” Baudin says of the decision. “Right now meetings in party districts are going at full pace.” 

The May 15th meeting will take place on the Sunday before the week when Finland’s Iltalehti and Sweden’s Expressen newspaper last month reported Finland and Sweden had already decided to jointly announce a decision to join Nato.

Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, is due to visit Stockholm on 17th May and 18 May on a state visit, where he will be hosted by King Karl XVI Gustaf.  

The meeting of the Social Democrats’ ruling committee will come shortly after the party holds three digital members’ meetings on security policy, on May 9th, May 10th and May 12th (although these may also be brought forward). 

There is still resistance in the party’s rank and file, with at least three of the party’s powerful leagues still openly opposed to joining: 

  • The Social Democratic Women in Sweden voted last week to continue its opposition to Nato membership.
  • The Swedish Social Democratic Youth League has said it would prefer Sweden to bolster its security through the EU.
  • The Religious Social Democrats of Sweden has said that it believes the decision should not be rushed through at a time of conflict.  
  • The Social Democrat Students’ League has said that it wants to wait until it has seen the security police analysis before taking a decision. 

None of these leagues can block membership, however. It is the Social Democrats’ ruling party committee which is empowered to take the decision.