• Sweden's news in English

Welfare and taxes dominate final debate

AFP/The Local · 18 Sep 2010, 09:36

Published: 18 Sep 2010 09:36 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The hottest issue leading up to Sunday's general elections -- the far-right Sweden Democrats expected entrance into parliament and possible role as kingmakers after the vote -- was meanwhile barely touched upon in the debate.

"I am not against cutting taxes, but not at any price," Social Democrat leader Mona Sahlin, who is vying to become Sweden's first woman prime minister, said during the two-hour debate on public television.

"What is needed now is not more tax cuts for those of us who already have the most," said Sahlin, insisting Sweden should invest in its welfare state, which she argued had been severely weakened by four years of centre-right rule.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt meanwhile stressed that his Moderate Party and its coalition partners the Liberal, Centre and Christian Democrat parties, had focused on sound public finances, cutting benefits and taxes in a bid to create jobs and thereby "secure the financing of the welfare state,"

Sweden's womb-to-tomb welfare state has been hailed as one of the world's most successful models, offering universal health and child care, more than a year's parental leave, solid public education system and extensive sick leave.

The Social Democrats, who have dominated Swedish politics for the past 80 years, were ousted from power four years ago as the centre-right parties toned down their criticism of the system and said they were the better caretakers of the so-called "Swedish model."

Friday's debate however clearly showed that the two sides have dramatically different ideas of what the welfare state should entail.

Sahlin and her coalition partners, the heads of the Greens and the formerly communist Left Party, said the government's massive income tax cuts had hampered investment in job creation, healthcare, schools and the environment.

"We have to stop living as though we were the last generation on earth," Green Party co-chair Maria Wetterstrand said, while Left leader Lars Ohly insisted "we should not have to have poor children in our welfare state."

The three leftwing leaders lashed out at a government reform that has dramatically reduced access to long-term sick leave, pointing out that tens of thousands of people had lost their benefits.

"When you get sick you should not also be forced to become poor," Sahlin said.

Story continues below…

The government parties, which have been eager to focus on Sweden's strong economy, meanwhile said the reform aimed to reduce the strain on the welfare state of having masses of able-bodied people on benefits.

When his government came to power, Reinfeldt said, "750,000 people in the world's healthiest country were too sick to work ... We have tried to fix a very serious societal problem ... passivity."

There was only a very brief discussion Friday of the far-right's likely surge into parliament after the elections, with several party leaders blaming lax immigrant integration policies.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

14:08 September 18, 2010 by Sam1
The Ruling party sounds like USA, they want Sweden to have prostitutes, to have beggars, to have extremely rich who abuse others and too poor who steal and beg and sell their body.

They want to be like MOney money money, more pollution more inhumanity, mean attitude at hospitals, Becareful Sweds you dont turn to USA, to porno to

no moral. To a life that the sick dies on the hospital door, the elderly dies and rotts at home to a country of opportunists and a jungle of man eaters that the strong eats the weak and lives on his misfortune.

Soon Sweden will be worse than 3rd world countries everything is expensive but the human the cheapest.

Beware of Sverige D and Moderates!!!! Vote Social democrates and support them to protect the humanity in Sweden,
18:24 September 18, 2010 by amuharun
Write now there is no alternative of Social Democrat in Sweden. Wellfare model shall come back. Otherwise I hope not to be sick and unemployed in next 4 yrs. Sick and unemployed people are neglected by alliance ruling party. I dont want extra healthy planbook, I want security for future (If I get sick or unemployed).

Wish good luck to Redgreen.
19:42 September 18, 2010 by vlk.77

you are typical swedish communist. You and Mona Stalin a her communist party are only big loosers.
20:11 September 18, 2010 by zircon
The Swedish immigrant problem is having a toothache for quite some time now.
21:05 September 18, 2010 by Localer
only those are lazy, useless immigrants who keep asking free money from government will vote for Mona......
22:18 September 18, 2010 by uninformedyank
My wife's family is from Sweden and Swedish relatives visit here and the wife's family goes to Sweden each year. I will join them for the first time next year.

I would like some information as to how Sweden finances a retirement I understand to be in the neighborhood of 100 percent of a person's final salary. I would certainly like in on that plan.

23:41 September 18, 2010 by Brucelee@stockholm.sweden
Sam1, I guess maybe you were lazy and pretended to be sick and cheated for benifits but during the past 4 years you get nothing, lol
19:32 September 19, 2010 by John D.
The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money [to spend].
Today's headlines
Meet Sweden's lonely Donald Trump voter
A Donald Trump campaign button. Photo: Rogelio V Solis/AP

The Local talks to an American Donald Trump supporter on what it is like living in progressive stronghold Sweden.

Forgotten Ingmar Bergman script to be made into a film
It's thought the script was part of an ill-fated collaboration between Bergman (left) and Federico Fellini (right). Photo: AP

Written in 1969, the script is 'up to the standard of his best', according to the Ingmar Bergman Foundation.

Sweden's consumption footprint 'among the worst'
Trucks transporting goods on a Swedish highway. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Sweden has been criticized for its unsustainable consumption of the planet's resources in the latest edition of a major WWF study.

Video: How to be Joel Kinnaman for a day
Kinnaman with one of the camera rigs that will allow people inside his head. Photo: Tele2

The Swedish Hollywood actor will strap a camera to his head, stream it live and allow viewers to interact with him this weekend.

Presented by Invest Stockholm
How Stockholm's cold climate boosts creativity
Photo: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se

Do long, dark winters actually make Swedes more creative and more productive? We spoke to Stockholm startups to find out.

Sweden to keep record-low interest rate in 2017
Sweden's landmark negative interest rate will continue towards 2018. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

The Swedish central bank said that it will take longer than expected to reach its inflation target.

Presented by Stockholm University
9 unexpected programmes at Stockholm University
Photo: Niklas Björling

Did you know Stockholm University offers 75 master's programmes taught in English? And some of them are programmes you won't find anywhere else...

Creepy clown messes with the wrong dog walker in Sweden
Not the clown in the story. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A dog helped its owner fight off a creepy clown chasing the pair in southern Sweden.

A million Swedes are digitally excluded: report
How should Sweden bridge the digital divide? Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Tech-savvy Swedes? Perhaps not. A new study suggests that at least a million of its residents feel the pain of the digital divide.

Malmö's 19th Swedish title sets Champions hopes alight
Malmö fans celebrating after the match. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Malmö FF have their eyes set on the Champions League after winning the Swedish league for the 19th time.

Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
People-watching: October 26th
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available