Reinfeldt and Sahlin spar in debate

Questions Sweden's future government as well as the current economic crisis occupied much of a televised debate between prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and Social Democratic party leader Mona Sahlin on Tuesday night.

Reinfeldt and Sahlin spar in debate

“It’s unbelievably cynical to destroy a-kassa. Now when we need it, it’s not there,” said Sahlin, referring to Sweden’s unemployment insurance funds.

During the debate, which was broadcast on Sveriges Television, Sahlin repeatedly brought up the financial crisis and the wave of recently announced job cuts in attempt to highlight the downsides of the government’s changes to unemployment insurance funds.

Just as lob losses are starting to mount, a half a million Swedes find themselves without unemployment insurance, she said.

“They need to have an a-kassa with a higher ceiling,” she said.

Reinfeldt struck back by claiming that Sahlin favoured a steep rise in taxes amounting to 70 billion kronor ($9.76 billion) in three years.

He also pointed out that the government’s recent budget bill included a number of programmes devoted to promoting jobs and economic growth.

“It’s a super-package,” he said.

Reinfeldt emphasized as well that many of the government’s tax cuts are designed to help those who earn the least.

And just as in last Sunday’s debate between the seven party leaders, much time was also devoted to the question of which parties would form a government following the 2010 elections.

Sahlin was forced to admit she’d been “vague” as to whether her party would allow the Left Party to be a part of a Social Democratic led government.

Reinfeldt condemned the opposition for remaining splintered and noted with confidence that “the Alliance plans on heading toward the 2010 election as a cohesive governing alternative”.