Boosts for Social Democrats and “new Moderates”

In the first major opinion poll since Swedes returned to work after the summer, voters have given the ruling Social Democrats a reason to be cheerful for the first time in months.

The party’s support among voters now stands at 34.1%, a rise of over 3% since the record low of 30.8% in June, according to pollsters Temo.

“The Social Democrats have succeeded in stopping their plummet,” said Arne Modig at Temo.

“The initiative taken on the budget matters could have made the government seem stronger than it did before the summer.”

Modig was referring to the budget plans announced by finance minister Pär Nuder, which included a cut in alcohol tax and income tax as well as raising the ceiling for sickness benefits.

But the bad news for Prime Minister Göran Persson was that his party is not the only one increasing support among voters.

The main opposition party, the Moderates, also saw their support increased, from 31.7% in June to 32.2%.

On Thursday the Moderates’ leader, Fredrik Reinfeldt, attempted to boost that further as he launched the “new” Moderates at the party conference in Örebro.

He made it clear that he wants neither a tax revolution nor a conflict about workers’ rights.

Reinfeldt wants to erase the image of the Moderates as a party for the well-to-do and sought approval from members to take a “new and improved” party into the election next year.

“I want to warn those who would make the Moderates some sort of tax shop, where you can go in and buy your own little tax cut,” he said.

If Reinfeldt is keen to be seen as caring and sharing when it comes to Sweden’s beloved benefits, he also emphasised that the Moderates will not create new jobs by bickering over workers’ rights.

Instead, he called upon unions and business to take responsibility for getting people back to work.

Reinfeldt’s speech went down well with the party faithful, who, for the first time in years, are smelling the faint whiff off power.

“When the party is in a successful phase there are fewer critical views coming forward,” said Moderate member of Parliament, Henrik Westman, who nevertheless said that the party should be clearer about ditching property tax.

Jan-Owe Larsson, a Moderate member from Östergötland, told TT that the changes in the Moderates’ politics “feels completely right”.

“We will make tax cuts in the right areas. But then it’s clear that there are taxes in other areas which it is also important to cut but that’s something for the long term,” he said.

The Local/TT

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, TT