London attacks dominate Almedalen

Sweden's railways and postal service should be run by state-owned monopolies. That's the view of the Left Party, which took centre stage on the final day of the Almedalen political week on Gotland.

In a programme that was inevitably overshadowed by the terrorist attacks in London, troubled Left Party leader Lars Ohly presented new policies in an attempt to move on from the problems that have beset his party in recent weeks.

Ohly wanted to talk about policies such as a 35 hour working week for healthcare assistants and reform of parental leave so that fathers and mothers are forced to share their time off equally.

Yet at Almedalen, Ohly found it difficult to persuade the media to shift the focus away from the party’s internal troubles. A number of senior figures have left the party in the past few months, many of them in protest at Ohly’s description of himself as a communist.

But writing in Göteborgs Posten on Thursday, Ohly said that the recent desertions from the party “must be seen proportionately”.

“People, like politics, develop and change. This means constant re-evaluation, which occasionally leads people to realise that their sympathies lie elsewhere in politics.”

Ohly was the last of Sweden’s party leaders to appear at Almedalen. On Thursday, Liberal Party leader Lars Leijonborg ditched his planned speech on education in favour of a response to the attacks on London.

Sweden must do more to fight terrorism, Leijonborg argued. Allowing the military to play a role in helping the police fight terror was one of the more controversial suggestions in Leijonborg’s speech, in which he also said that Swedes were “astonishingly naive” in their approach to terrorism.

Leijonborg made his speech in front of a British union jack and two Swedish flags. His audience included British Ambassador Anthony Cary, who joined with a 1000-strong audience in a minute’s silence for the dead in London.

Terrorism was also at the heart of Maud Olofsson’s speech on Friday. But the Centre Party leader cautioned against demands for tougher anti-terrorist measures such as bugging and infiltration.

“If we start going down that road we won’t want to live in this society,” she said, arguing that fighting poverty was the best way to fight terrorism.

“Fight poverty, give children good healthcare and education, fight HIV/AIDS, strengthen women’s rights and build democracy,” she said.