Left coalition partners in show of conference unity

Left coalition partners in show of conference unity
The Social Democrats welcomed their centre-left coalition partners, the Green and Left parties, to their ongoing conference on Sunday - the first time outside parties have taken part.

The Left party leader Lars Ohly and the Green party’s spokespeople Maria Wetterstrand and Peter Eriksson visited the conference, held in Älvjö in Stockholm, in a bid to underline the unity of the coalition.

“We have done something unique and created a totally new political landscape. Together we are going to kick out Fredrik Reinfeldt from Rosenbad,” Social Democrat leader Mona Sahlin said when inviting the other leaders up onto to the podium.

The trio agreed afterwards that decisions taken at the conference ease the work to integrate their party platforms with less than a year to go before the next general election.

“I think that the decision shows that the conference is conscious that compromises are needed,” Peter Eriksson said.

The decision to allow profits within welfare services directly contradicts the standpoint taken by the Left party, but Lars Ohly expressed satisfaction that some small steps had been taken to accommodate the views of the Left party.

Ohly underlined that the conference has for example removed the word “large” before “profits” which means that the Social Democrats no longer accept “that private owners extract profits by neglecting the quality of welfare.”

“We have slightly different views and standpoints but there is nothing that makes our cooperation more difficult,” he said.

Maria Wetterstrand meanwhile welcomed the news that the Social Democrats have voted against the introduction of a profits ban.

“It keeps it open for independent schools. That I am happy about,” she said.

The party has also announced that it plans to trump the 2010 government budget for culture and the arts by 270 million kronor ($38.2 million).

The controversial Ipred surveillance and anti-file sharing law was considered with minimal debate.

A compromise had already been reached that the law needed to be redrafted, with the privacy and integrity of individuals tightened at the same time as copyright holders interests met.

“When you meet young voters it is a question that continually comes up. What do you think about file-sharing? We did not have a good answer but a lot has happened during the four days of negotiations,” Åsa Westlund said.

Sofie Bringsaas from the party’s youth league, SSU, attended the conference with a mandate to fight Ipred.

“We stood a great distance from each other and I was set on a tough debate. But we now have a good balance between personal integrity and the right of copyright holders to get paid for their work.”

The new Ipred law gives private companies the scope to investigate and to push the courts to order the release of file-sharers identities. The Social Democrat compromise contains little to change this but underlines that it is the police that have the responsibility to investigate crime.

Furthermore the party agreed to work towards a three part parental insurance system. One third would be reserved for each parent and the remaining third could be divided freely.

The party conference also ruled out a re-nationalization of the Apoteket pharmacy chain.

The Social Democrats 36th party conference comes to a close on Sunday afternoon.

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