“Sweden is too small for major conflicts. Our framework has grown through cooperation. That which is built across coalition boundaries remains strong and endures,” she said.
Sahlin ended her speech with a call to end partisan politics in order to reduce the influence of the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, who entered the Riksdag for the first time following Sweden’s 2010 general elections.
“It’s the only way to isolate a xenophobic party,” she said.
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson brought neither a present nor warm words for Sahlin. Instead, he stated that she served as an inspiration for the Sweden Democrats “as a symbol of the failed multicultural project.”
Sahlin thanked her parliamentary colleagues for the fun and tedious debates she has engaged in over the last 30 years and was thanked in turn from the right to left.
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt thanked Sahlin for a “solid and genuine political performance”.
“Mona Sahlin has the power to arouse feelings far beyond the boundaries of one’s own political party,” he stated in tribute.
He also presented her with a farewell gift: an iPhone with Mahatma Gandhi’s book “The art of turning the world upside down” to listen to during her power walks.
Sahlin and outgoing Green Party spokeswoman Maria Wetterstrand admitted that they will miss each other.
“However, now we can go out and have a drink together,” said Sahlin.
After Wetterstrand’s speech, the speeches of thanks continued, with the exception of Åkesson’s, for Wetterstrand and Green Party co-spoekesperson Peter Eriksson, both of whom, according to party rules, must step down this year.
In her closing speech, Wetterstrand chose to go on a frontal attack against the xenophobic policies of Denmark and expressed the hope that the government will cooperate to prevent Sweden from becoming what Denmark is today.
“The Green Party stands for openness, freedom, diversity and responsibility for future generations. I cannot imagine a worse restriction than to have what is in place now in Denmark, where one cannot marry whoever one wants,” she said.
Liberal Party leader Jan Björklund commended Sahlin for her courage and regeneration.
“It is not my business to replace the Social Democrats’ party leader, but I think the party has made a mistake,” he said.
Björklund also praised Sahlin for the speech she gave after her departure.
“If you had made this speech earlier, even I would have voted for you,” he joked.
Centre Party leader Maud Olofsson recalled the tough battles she had with Sahlin and expressed the hope that the next Social Democratic leader will be a woman.