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2022 SWEDISH ELECTION

UPDATED: What election pledges have Sweden’s largest political parties made this year?

With the 2022 Swedish parliamentary election less than a month away, The Local looks at each party's policies and pledges in the run-up to the big day on September 11th. Here's part one, covering Sweden's four largest parties.

UPDATED: What election pledges have Sweden's largest political parties made this year?
A person voting in a Swedish voting booth in the 2019 EU elections. Photo: Erik Mårtensson/TT

We’ll start with Sweden’s four largest parties: the left-wing Social Democrats and the conservative Moderates, the far-right Sweden Democrats and the Centre Party, who, as you probably guessed, are in the centre of the political spectrum.

The leader of one of Sweden’s two largest parties – Magdalena Andersson for the Social Democrats and Ulf Kristersson for the Moderates – is likely to become prime minister after September’s election, depending on how well each party does, as well as how many votes the other parties in their blocs receive.

Social Democrat election posters on pensions, limiting profits for free schools, and law and order issues. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Social Democrats

The Social Democrats focus on six different policy areas on their website, which, interestingly, don’t correspond entirely with their election campaign posters unveiled in early August.

The campaign posters cover pensions, schools (specifically, limiting profit-making free schools), crime and law and order.

On their website, however, the ruling Social Democrats highlight different issues: welfare, healthcare, elderly care, labour, the climate and law and order.

Some key issues highlighted in their campaign are more police officers, stricter punishments for criminals, better pensions and limiting profits for free schools. They also state that “everyone who can work, should work”, adding that those who work should be able to live off their salary and have good working conditions.

Some of their labour policies include creating more jobs across Sweden, including in the healthcare sector in order to shorten queues for accessing healthcare, providing better opportunities for the unemployed to retrain and introducing the family week policy they were previously unable to pass through parliament.

In the first two weeks of August, the party has been rolling out themed policy packages including a mix of new and existing proposals. 

Crime 

The party released a package to combat gang shootings on August 14th. 

  • Tougher punishments for “unlawful coercion”, “illegal threats”, “robbery”, and “blackmail”. 
  • New class of punishements for “violent confrontations among criminals”
  • New punishment for “involving people under 18 in a crime or criminal organisation 
  • Tougher punishment for selling drugs and ordering drugs for own use 
  • Threshold for presumption for pre-trial custody reduced from a crime with minimum sentence of two years to one and a half years 

Segregation 

The party presented a package of policy pledges to combat segregation on August 15th. 

These included: 

  • Three-year-olds in ‘vulnerable areas’ automatically signed up for preschool. Read The Local’s story here
  • Establish a state-owned property company to build and manage properties in vulnerable areas 
  • Give municipalities new powers to buy land in order to actively battle housing segregation 
  • Give municipalities powers to at an early stage ensure that housing areas are socially mixed 
  • Bring in a language requirement for permanent residence 
  • Abolish EBO law allowing asylum seekers to live where they choose 
  • Bring back labour market testing for work permits 
  • Increased funding for sports in vulnerable areas 

Ending profit-making in the welfare system 

The party presented a package of proposals on reversing privatisation of schools and welfare on August 16th, which included: 

  • End ‘secret queues’ for state-funded free schools
  • Stop companies running free schools from taking out profits 
  • Ban religious free schools
  • Give municipalities the right to veto new free schools
  • Ensure public access to all documents for free schools and state-funded private health providers 

Moderate party leader Ulf Kristersson speaks at his party’s election kickoff in Norrköping on August 4th. Photo: Magnus Andersson/TT

Moderates

The Moderates’ main policy focus areas in their campaign, according to their website are crime, the economy and jobs, as well as energy and the climate.

The conservative opposition party’s policies criticise the reigning Social Democrats, pointing out issues it has identified as being important for voters. It does not, however, propose a set of policies to tackle these issues.

The Moderates mention the high level of shootings in Sweden (“one shooting a day, one fatal shooting a week”), mugging, fraud against the elderly and women’s “insecurity outdoors” as important election issues this year.

They also focus on the economy and “planboksfrågor”, or literally “wallet issues”, like cost of living and personal economy issues, stating that “after eight years with the Social Democrats in government, we have the EU’s lowest growth … and eighth-highest unemployment”, as well as stating that “700,000 people who have migrated to Sweden can’t support themselves financially, costing 132 billion kronor per year”.

On energy and climate, they state that energy prices have broken new records this summer, with the situation “expected to get even harder in autumn and winter”, as well as stating that “Sweden has burnt oil in the middle of summer”.

Their main argument as to why voters should vote for them is not a policy as such, rather the fact that they have “gathered four parties which agree on the political issues which are most important for voters”.

They list eleven points these four parties – the Moderates, the Christian Democrats, the Sweden Democrats and the Liberals – agree on.

Some of these points tackle specific law and order issues, such as introducing double sentences for gang criminals and imprisoning young people who carry out “humiliation robberies” – robberies where the perpetrator humiliates their victim.

Other points tackle money issues, like “work should pay” and less red tape for owners of small businesses, as well as energy and climate issues, such as lower fuel prices and more nuclear power to provide “cheaper and greener electricity”.

Finally, some points tackle integration and migration: “tightened immigration for integration to succeed”, and “no to forced bussing of students”, a policy which does not currently exist and has not been proposed, where students would be bussed from areas with a high immigrant population to areas with a lower level of immigrants, in order to aid integration.

Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson kicks off his party’s election tour in Söderköping. Photo: Magnus Andersson/TT

Sweden Democrats

The Sweden Democrats’ key focus areas for the upcoming election are migration, security, cheaper fuel and welfare.

Their election campaign is also markedly negative, describing the country as “a divided Sweden where gangs have been allowed to grow, exclusion has taken root and the cost of living for people has drastically increased”.

They argue that “those who created this society”, which they state is a product of “decades of social liberal politics”, are incompetent when it comes to solving the problems it faces.

They also state that they are “not like other parties” blaming the other parties for “making Sweden how it is today”.

Their main argument for voting for them in September is to “create a cohesive Sweden where people can feel secure, a sense of community and have a good standard of living”, as well as stating that the Sweden Democrats are “the party which warned of these developments in society and saw it coming”.

On migration, they state that “mass migration to Sweden from illegal immigrants, economic migrants and asylum seekers has changed Sweden for the worse and has caused many societal problems that we now need to fix”.

To do this, the Sweden Democrats want to stop all refugees from countries which “are not close to us” and tighten migration policy to the “strictest possible level according to EU law”. They also want the number of migrants who do not have the right to be in Sweden leaving to be higher than the number of migrants arriving in Sweden.

On welfare, they accuse the Social Democrats of “letting Sweden’s welfare fall into ruin”, stating that they will solve the issue by “financing large-scale investments through lowering aid and a sustainable migration policy”. They further state that Sweden’s welfare “should not be available for the whole world’s population” and that it should only be fully available to Swedish citizens and those who contribute to the welfare state.

On security, they state that there needs to be more police with better working conditions. They also want to increase sentences for criminals.

On fuel, the Sweden Democrats are critical of higher fuel taxes, suggesting that they would lower tax on fuel if elected.

Annie Lööf holds a speech at the Centre Party election kick-off on August 5th. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Centre Party

The Centre Party’s election manifesto focuses on a number of priorities: “how the whole country should live, how we can save the environment and the climate, create an equal Sweden, increase the potential of small businesses and strengthen the economy, improve healthcare, protect liberal democracy and strengthen the social contract”.

It also makes a point of the fact that it is Sweden’s only conservative or borgerlig party which refuses to work with the Sweden Democrats, describing them as a “xenophobic party with authoritarian leaders as its role models”.

In terms of climate, the Centre Party states that Sweden must “take advantage of the possibilities of technology and the innovative power of companies to overcome the climate threat”. The Centre Party also wants “increased freedom, security and accessibility” across Sweden, and it wants to “increase women’s security and independence” through preventative measures against male violence against women.

On the economy and small businesses, it wants lower tax and less red tape, and more stability in state finances.

On healthcare, it – like most of the other parties – also wants to shorten healthcare waiting times. The Centre Party will do that by providing better working conditions for healthcare workers and providing better access to those in need across the country.

On law and order, it calls for a better prepared totalförsvar or “total defence”, Sweden’s defence tactic in which the entire country must be prepared to defend in the case of an attack, as well as preventative measures to tackle crime.

Finally, the Centre Party calls for, unsurprisingly, central politics. Green, liberal politics and a fight against division and polarisation. “Sweden does not need xenophobic right-wing nationalism or socialist left-wing politics,” it says.

Here is part two of our appraisal of party election pledges, looking at the pledges of the Christian Democrats, Left Party, Liberal Party, and Green Party. 

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SWEDEN ELECTS

Sweden Elects: How powerful are the Sweden Democrats now?

The Local's editor Emma Löfgren explains how Sweden's parliamentary committees work – and the role the Sweden Democrats will play in them.

Sweden Elects: How powerful are the Sweden Democrats now?

Hej,

The speaker of parliament has given Ulf Kristersson, leader of the conservative Moderates and the likely next prime minister of Sweden, October 12th as a deadline to conclude his government negotiations.

If Kristersson comes up with a viable proposal for a ruling coalition, the speaker will put that proposal to parliament within four days. Chances are Sweden will have its new right-wing government by mid-October.

What will that government look like? Most likely, it will consist of at least the Moderates and the Christian Democrats. Rumours have it Kristersson is hoping to bring the Liberals into the governmental fold, and it is unlikely that the far-right Sweden Democrats will be part of the government.

But anyone who thinks the latter means they will be left on the sidelines is mistaken. They will have demanded significant concessions in order to support Kristersson’s government (and especially to make way for the Liberals) from parliament, and judging from recent news, they got them.

In a joint press release last week, the right wing – the Moderates, Christian Democrats, Liberals and Sweden Democrats – said they had reached a deal on how to share responsibility for their parliamentary committees.

There are 15 committees in the Swedish parliament, seats on which are held by members of parliament, with larger parties getting more seats as well as more high-ranking roles such as chair and deputy chair.

The right wing is after this election entitled to 16 chair and deputy chair roles, and the Sweden Democrats will get half of those, the parties agreed. The key thing that many political pundits were keeping an eye on was which committees, as that tells us a lot about how far they got in their negotiations with the other right-wing parties. The answer: far.

The Sweden Democrats will get to chair the Justice, Foreign Affairs, Labour Market, and Industry and Trade Committees – all heavyweight committees. 

Their most high-profile appointment is Richard Jomshof, one of the most senior Sweden Democrats who in the run-up to the election gave an anti-Islam speech (not the first time). He will chair the Justice Committee.

The Moderates will chair the Finance and Social Insurance Committees (plus the EU Committee), the Christian Democrats will chair the Health and Welfare Committee, and the Liberals will chair the Education Committee.

On the other side, the left-wing parties will get to chair the Defence, Taxation, Constitution, Civil Affairs, Transport and Communications, Environment and Agriculture, and Cultural Affairs Committees.

So what exactly do the parliamentary committees do, and how much influence will the Sweden Democrats now have over legislation?

The votes of every member of the committees count equally (there are at least 15 members on every committee, representing the various parties from left to right), and the chair gets the final vote if there’s a tie. He or she also has influence over the committee’s agenda and over how meetings are directed, with the position also bringing prestige.

All government bills and proposals by members of parliament first go through one of the committees before they can be put to the main chamber for a vote. The committee adopts a position on the proposal and although the final decision rests with the 349 members of the main chamber, they usually vote for the committee’s position since the make-up of their members represent the parties in parliament.

Although chair positions give them a procedural advantage, the Sweden Democrats won’t have unlimited power over their committees, since as I said, the other parties have seats too and their votes count equally.

The main benefit for the Sweden Democrats is rather the soft power it gives them. The chair is the face of the parliamentary committee, and these senior roles will force the other parties to take them seriously.

Another aspect to bear in mind is that they’ll have enough seats on each committee that they will have a key kingmaker role where they can side either with the government or the opposition – giving them fairly significant negotiating power when it comes to future legislation.

In other news, the Swedish parliament last week re-elected the popular Andreas Norlén as speaker, it’s been taking much longer than usual to get a work permit (here’s why) and foreigners are calling for the Migration Agency to issue special visas to allow those affected by renewal delays to leave Sweden and return, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline has stopped leaking gas, and households in Sweden are starting to feel the economic squeeze.

In the latest episode of our Sweden in Focus podcast, host Paul O’Mahony is joined by Handelsbanken chief economist Johan Löf, as well as The Local’s Becky Waterton, Richard Orange and James Savage.

Many thanks to everyone who’s got in touch lately with your thoughts and feedback about Sweden Elects. I’m happy it’s useful to you. If you have any questions about Swedish politics, you’re always welcome to get in touch.

Best wishes,

Emma

Sweden Elects is a weekly column by Editor Emma Löfgren looking at the big talking points and issues in the Swedish election race. Members of The Local Sweden can sign up to receive the column as a newsletter in their email inbox each week. Just click on this “newsletters” option or visit the menu bar.

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