New Swedish party to target healthcare reform

Swedish voters will find yet another 'special interest' party on their ballot slips at the next election. Euro-sceptics have the June List and feminists have the Feminist Initiative, but the latest group to declare its parliamentary ambitions is the Healthcare Party.

On Saturday representatives from six regional healthcare parties met in Uppsala to lay the foundations for a new national party, beginning with creating an interim board. ‘Healthcare Party’, the board agreed, is just a working title.

“That will be decided at the first general meeting,” said Kenneth Backgård, chairman of the new interim board, to TT.

But one problem facing the group is that they have not managed to bring together all of the eleven healthcare parties which exist in Sweden. That will make it hard to reach out to the whole country.

“We’ve had support from the chairman of Stockholm’s healthcare party. They haven’t been able to get behind us formally, but he has done so.”

Nevertheless, Kenneth Backgård said that it is reasonable to believe that the party will get the 4% of the vote necessary to get into parliament. In the most recent county council elections, local healthcare parties picked up 130,000 votes.

“We need to double our votes but it’s by no means impossible to do that,” said Backgård.

Although healthcare plays a main role in its policy stance, with, for example, a call for more private firms operating in the sector, the party describes itself as generalist.

It wants to cut the overall tax burden and reduce employer costs. But it also wants railways and roads to remain under public ownership.

The Healthcare Party wants to invest 35 billion kronor more in health and social care and has set a target of spending 10% of Sweden’s GDP on health.

To finance the plan, the party proposes stopping raising the ceiling on sickness benefits and more effective coordination of the social insurance system.

But the group admitted to concerns about being seen as a single-issue party.

“We’re conscious that we could become like that. And that could be a burden but it could also be an opportunity since it focuses on an urgent issue,” said Kenneth Backgård.

TT/The Local