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2010 ELECTION COVERAGE
Introducing the Liberals

Introducing the Liberals

Published: 08 Sep 2010 11:50 GMT+02:00
Updated: 08 Sep 2010 11:50 GMT+02:00

The Liberals are one of the three smaller parties which make up the centre-right Alliance coalition that has been in government since 2006, having polled 7.5 percent in the 2006 general election.

Education minister Jan Björklund is the party leader. The party has a further three government ministers - Minister for Higher Education and Research Tobias Krantz, Minister of EU Affairs Birgitta Ohlsson and Minister for Integration and Gender Equality Nyamko Sabuni.

History and ideology

The Liberal Party (Folkpartiet liberalerna – fp) is a social liberal political party with roots dating back to the end of royal autocracy in 1809. The party's base is mostly among the middle-class and is known for its positive stance toward the euro, EU, nuclear power, and Nato, and for its no-nonsense profile on education issues.

Aside from taking its place in a war-time coalition government, the Liberals first experienced power in a three party coalition government in 1976 under Prime Minister Thorbjörn Fälldin, which ultimately came to an end in 1982.

After being part of the crisis government and reform years under Carl Bildt between 1991 and 1994, the party had a long period in opposition.

The Liberals enjoyed a successful 2002 election, in an otherwise disappointing year the centre-right, but was criticised for adopting populist right-wing rhetoric when proposing a language test requirement for obtaining Swedish citizenship.

The party leader since 2007 is Jan Björklund, a former army major and school-teacher, known for his tough stance on order in schools. Björklund recently aired his view on the re-nationalisation of the public schools system, currently the reserve of municipalities.

The party supports more open immigration, especially for economic migrants.

The Liberal Party under Jan Björklund has been described as standing for a strain of liberalism dubbed ”law and order liberalism” and the party regular defends the ”right to place demands” on groups in society such as immigrants and the unemployed.

Gender equality minister Nyamko Sabuni has meanwhile been criticised from some quarters for declining to identify herself as a feminist.

2010 election platform

The Liberals campaign is very much focused on party leader Jan Björklund and equality minister Nyamko Sabuni, and the party is pushing its education and integration line as the party of action which does not shy from tough choices.

Key points

*Grades from 12 years of age and the re-establishment of vocational training at upper secondary school (gymnasium) level; more funds to higher education

*Nuclear power expansion

*Euro membership

*Cut segregation with a focus on jobs and Swedish language skills; citizenship course for newly arrived immigrants

*Establishment of a European police force

*Identify men's violence against women as the most ”acute” equality issue, propose an outlawing of forced and child marriages

Comment

The Liberals have enjoyed a rebound in the polls recently with Björklund's straightforward approach putting the party in a strong position to wrestle the position of the Alliance's second party away from the Centre Party.

To return to the election guide main page, click here.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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