Sunday, September 03, 2006

Election watch: Sweden deserves better

Tonight the leader of Sweden’s Conservative party, Fredrik Reinfeldt, was questioned for one hour on SVT. He was asked quite a few tough questions, had to play a lot of defense, and generally looked very tense. I don’t think he won a lot of new votes tonight; his answers were complicated and technical. OK, he did not mess up totally as he did on radio, but the hour was quite informative if you wonder what Reinfeldt stands for. If you missed the show, all these things were actually made clear:
  • Reinfeldt is not a feminist.
  • Reinfeldt thinks that if the traffic insurance for driving a car is a) private and b) more expensive for ordinary people, there will be fewer accidents.
  • Old age pensioners will get higher taxes, since Reinfeldt only proposes tax cuts for people who are currently working. If you have worked all your life, you don’t qualify.
  • All the fees he wants to increase and/or introduce will then (of course) hit old people more (since they don’t get the tax cut). One example is a new fee that will be introduced when you buy medicine at the pharmacy.
  • The unemployment insurance will be reduced to only 65 percent after 300 days, but Reinfeldt was sure that “it is possible to adopt” to these lower levels. He did not manage to explain how this could create new jobs.
  • Early retirees and people with a disability pension will also get lower income levels for the rest of their lives.
  • Trade union membership will become more expensive.
  • To have a public library in each municipality will no longer be a requirement (rich kids can buy books anyway?).
  • The free entrance to public museums will be abolished (except for kids).
  • Swedish development aid to the poorest people in the world will be cut by eight billion kronor. (This will finance lower taxes for people with jobs in Sweden, one of the richest countries on earth).
  • The Conservative government has voted against a lot of green proposals in the Riksdag, which have aimed at leading Sweden towards a sustainable development.
I think it was very good that these things were said clearly tonight, so that the voters know what proposals the Conservative Party stands for. When I re-read this list I get hopeful about this election. After hearing all these proposals, I understand why Fredrik Reinfeldt and George W. Bush are members of the same international political organization (big tax cuts, worse conditions for the poorest both at home and abroad, lack of environmental policies, no feminism...).

Now it is up to us Social Democrats to communicate our ideas and vision of a strong, green, modern and equal society. That is more fun and much more important. But the list above is good to have as an illustration of the alternative.

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Nina Blomberg has already commented Reinfeldt's hour on television at, the same goes for Marta Axner.


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