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POLITICS

Alliance gets on the rails to woo voters

There might be over a year to go until the next election, but given the frenetic activity of the parties in Sweden, one could be forgiven for thinking that campaigning was already underway.

The centre-right alliance that hopes to throw Prime Minister Göran Persson and his Social Democrat government out of office started a national tour on Tuesday to show a united front to voters, on the same day that a new poll showed the Social Democrats recovering support at the Moderate Party’s expense.

In an apparent effort to show that the Alliance is still alive and well, Moderate leader Fredrik Reinfeldt and the leaders of the other parties hopped on a specially chartered train in Stockholm on Tuesday to start two day tour of the country.

Lars Leijonborg, leader of the Liberals, said that the tour was evidence that the Alliance remains united.

“The Alliance for Sweden has come here to show that there is an alternative to the tired government we have today,” he told supporters and media in Uppsala.

Announcing plans to give old people the right to choose their own home help providers, the parties chose to characterise their new policy as part of a “struggle for freedom”. The party leaders were even wearing orange jerseys, in a conscious echo of the colour favoured by Ukranian democracy activists.

“This is about a question of principle: how do we want welfare and care services to look in the future?” said Centre Party leader Maud Olofsson.

“We think that they should be far more adjusted to the needs of individuals. One could also say the same thing about childcare. Politics should give you the possibility to make your own choices,” she said.

This latest show of unity was accompanied by a reminder that the Right’s recent successes in the opinion polls are still fragile. The Social Democrats, Greens and Left Party, on a combined showing of 45.3 percent, still trail the Alliance, which has the supoprt of 51 percent of voters. This is only marginally down on the figures in the same poll last month, in which the Alliance was on 52.3 and the left-wing bloc on 44.8. More worryingly for Reinfeldt, the poll showed that the Social Demcrats’ own support had jumped by five percentage points, while support for theModerates was down.

The change comes after recent discussions over the Swedish benefits system, with the Moderates arguing for drastically reduced benefit levels. This proposition put Fredrik Reinfeldt’s party at odds with its Liberal allies, with the result that some commentators have started to question whether the Right really can forge the unity needed to beat Persson.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet

POLITICS

Koran burnings by Danish far-Right extremist no longer causing riots, Swedish police say

Swedish police said there have been no disturbances associated with the Koran burning by Danish far-Right extremist Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs ("Hard Line") this week around Stockholm, unlike the riots seen over Easter.

Koran burnings by Danish far-Right extremist no longer causing riots, Swedish police say

Paludan and his party have been holding demonstrations this week involving burning the Koran, in what Paludan describes as an “election tour” ahead of standing in Sweden’s parliamentary election in September.

However Swedish newswire TT has reported that few people have seemed to care about the shock tactics used and police have confirmed that no major disturbances have occurred as a result of the demonstrations.

This is in stark contrast to the demonstrations over Easter, which resulted in riots involving vandalism and violence aimed primarily at police. A total of 26 police officers were injured and at least 40 people were arrested.

“The police did not anticipate the extent of the protests and the enormous violence that the Easter riots brought with them. I don’t know if we have seen anything similar in Sweden in modern times,” Sten Widmalm, political scientist at Uppsala University, told newswire TT.

Widmalm says there are now fewer people turning up at Paludan’s demonstrations because of the number of people charged over the Easter riots. He also noted the increased police presence and adapted resources by the police, which has stopped anyone getting close to using violence.

Everyone that TT newswire spoke to a demonstration in Fittja torg, said they knew Paludan’s aim was to provoke people.

“I am a Muslim myself and I don’t care. For a true Muslim, all religions are equal. His message is to create conflict and irritation. You shouldn’t give him that,” Himmet Kaya told TT. 

According to Widmalm, there is nothing to indicate that Paludan will be successful at the Swedish election.

“On the other hand, I think that Stram Kurs has influenced Swedish politics very much in such a way that it has exposed large gaps in society. I think awareness of these has increased, due to the Easter riots – although it’s nothing to thank Paludan for.”

In Sweden, you must be a Swedish citizen in order to be elected to parliament. Paludan’s father is Swedish, and he applied for and was granted Swedish citizenship in 2020.

In order to enter the Swedish parliament, Paludan must win at least four percent of the vote in the upcoming election.

In 2019, Paludan stood in Danish parliamentary elections, achieving only 1.8 percent of the vote. Under Denmark’s proportional representation system, parties must achieve at least two percent of the vote in order to enter the Danish parliament.

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