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Crisis and EU dominate party leader debate

TT/The Local · 18 May 2009, 12:07

Published: 18 May 2009 12:07 GMT+02:00

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After the debate, the party leaders were most annoyed that the upcoming EU elections were given so little space.

The first hour of the televised party leader debate was taken up with discussing the global financial crisis and its impact on Sweden.

The prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and Social Democratic party leader Mona Sahlin held conflicting views as to why the gulfs are increasing between the various social groups in Sweden.

According to Reinfeldt it is a consequence of the increased unemployment as a result of the financial crisis while Sahlin argued that it was due to measures introduced by the government.

"Your government has strengthened the effects of the financial crisis," Sahlin said.

One question that raised the temperature of the debate was the government's tax cuts.

The social minister and Christian Democrat party leader Göran Hägglund argued that the working tax credit had led to as many as 80,000 new employment opportunities.

The opposition were however united in that taxes should be raised, but there was disagreement over how much.

In response to the question concerning what was the most important initiative to tackle unemployment, the government responded by underlining the importance of assisting small businesses and improving the quality of education and training.

The opposition instead spoke about raising skills levels and bringing forward investment plans.

The climate was a hot topic. The government has declared that it has the most ambitious climate and energy policies in the world, a claim that the opposition disputed.

Maria Wetterstrand of the Green party argued that she would like to see more and faster measures, for example to bring forward investments in energy efficiency.

"The climate is an issue that we living in the rich countries have a particular responsibility for," she argued.

Fredrik Reinfeldt expressed surprise after the debate that Mona Sahlin had confirmed that the Social Democrats will raise taxes across the board.

"She is also prepared to raise carbon taxes and that was new for this evening," added Centre party leader Maud Olofsson when the Alliance party leaders met after the debate.

"That is something that all parties must be prepared to state," Sahlin countered.

The Social Democrat leader is prepared to consider broad talks with the government prior to the election to ensure a broad consensus over file sharing and integrity issues.

All four Alliance party leaders expressed a wish for the EU to have gained greater prominence in the debate. The participants were originally invited to the debate to discuss the pending election, according to Göran Hägglund.

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"But then they changed tack a short while ago," Hägglund confirmed.

Mona Sahlin concurred.

"It is a scandal that with three weeks before the election it was not considered that a party leader debate could concern the EU."

Sveriges Television's presenter Karin Hübinette could not really understand the criticism against the debate. She claimed that the party leaders were free to address the EU during at least the first hour of the programme.

There will be a further EU debate on the Agenda current affairs programmed in two weeks time followed by a further debate involved the leading candidates for the EU parliamentary election.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:02 May 18, 2009 by krow
To raise tax in the midst of economic downfall and unemployement!!!!!! Are these people in the same planet as we the common citizen? Pathetic.
17:29 May 18, 2009 by bocale1
If the State wants to support the economy with investments and increase financial help for poor people, they need additional funding and it can mainly be achieved with higher taxes. This is the social-democratic way to handle such issues that made Sweden so famous in the past.

Otherwise, you can just do nothing, as the current government does, and look at what happens, hoping that the market will recover by itself. Good luck! I always laugh when I hear people discussing about being competitive in costs with countries like Baltic regions, eastern Europe, Asia... U.S. seems to have understood this point and see the amount of money the State is injecting in their economic system.
00:13 May 19, 2009 by ShaneW
People arent spending which is killing business and therefore jobs, cutting the right taxes should give people more to spend which can help stimulate an economy.

I much prefer that than the tax and spend of the Social Democrats.
10:54 May 22, 2009 by Carl
Government-sponsored "bridges to nowhere" might help the economy in the short-term, but in the long run it doesn't make any more sense than paying people to shovel rocks from one heap to another. In the soviet union, the government decided what everyone did, look where that got them. Lower taxes and let the people decide how to spend their own money - it's not perfect, but there is no better way.
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