Liberals in attack on Centre Party

The secretary of the Liberal Party has gone on the attack against the renewal of the Centre Party, a fellow member of the governing four-party Alliance for Sweden, saying it has become 'neo-liberal'. Meanwhile, a new poll shows support for Centre up over 2 percent, while support for the Alliance as a whole has fallen.

Erik Ullenhag, the most senior functionary in the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet), writes in Monday’s Dagens Nyheter of his concern that leading Centre Party spokespeople have floated the idea of a flat tax and big cuts in general taxation.

Other proposals from Maud Olofsson’s Centre Party, including for market rents for apartments and weakened employment security, also worry Ullenhag. He said that the party has returned to the old-fashioned Centre tradition of speaking of social welfare as providing basic support rather than income security.

Ullenhag said that the Alliance’s credibility would be put at risk if the Centre Party takes over the neo-liberal ground vacated by the Moderate Party’s shift to the centre-ground.

The Liberal secretary said that it was therefore important that voters are able to see the government’s social liberal vision, something he said must not be allowed to be threatened by the Centre’s neo-liberal aspects.

The comments by Ullenhag were met with puzzlement by his counterpart in the Centre Party, Anders Flanking.

“I find it hard to understand what this is supposed to achieve. It is strange, almost silly, for the two social liberal parties to discuss who is most social liberal,” he said.

“We want to be there making changes. We’re working for an open Sweden – for example by blocking the proposal on bugging that the Social Democrats and Liberals wanted to push through.”

The party secretaries from all four Alliance parties are due to meet on Wednesday.

“We need to discuss how to work together. We must work with each other and protect the Alliance. It is pointless to debate in this way,” said Flanking.

A poll by Demoskop published on Monday in Expressen gives the opposition left-wing bloc 51 percent of voter support, compared with 45.4 percent for the Alliance. Support for the Alliance is down 1.9 percentage points since last month.

The Centre Party’s share of support is up 2.2 percentage points to 6.8 percent, making it the second largest Alliance party, ahead of the Liberals on 6.2 and Christian Democrats’ 4.4 percent. The Moderates’ support is down 3.3 percentage points to 28 percent.