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'Cab controversy' colours Green leadership battle

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'Cab controversy' colours Green leadership battle
Mikaela Valtersson; a file image of a Swedish taxi cab
11:19 CEST+02:00
Revelations that the Green Party's Mikaela Valtersson spent thousands of taxpayers' kronor on taxi rides rather than taking public transportation have raised questions about her leadership potential, as the party convenes its conference to decide who will lead the party.

“There have been many late nights during budget discussions and I have also had to make sure I have been on time to vote in parliament,” Valtersson explained to daily Aftonbladet.

Valtersson was left defending her taste for taxis after the paper revealed that she has spent 17,728 kronor ($ 2,842) on cab rides, rather than using a less expensive and more climate-friendly commuter rain, even though she lives just 300 metres from the train station.

According to Aftonbladet, Valtersson would have saved 500 kronor on each of the 43 taxi journeys she took since October 2010, as well as cutting half an hour off her journey if she chose the train.

Valtersson, however, claims that there are many reasons why she has chose to travel by cab.

“There have been so many instances when trains haven't been running that there really hasn't been any other alternative," Valtersson told Aftonbladet.

Valtersson, who has served as the Green's economic policy spokesperson, has long been considered a candidate to take over as one of the Green Party's spokespeople following the impending departure of Maria Wetterstrand and Peter Eriksson, who have shared the de facto leadership role since 2002.

The Greens traditionally have one male and one female spokesperson serve in a party leadership role. And while MP Gustav Fridolin is the natural male candidate, it remains uncertain which woman may succeed Wetterstrand.

“Within the Green party there is a certain anti-authoritarian outlook which means that it isn't always experience, which of course I have more of, which will be the deciding factor,” Valtersson told news agency TT.

Valtersson had been dubbed the favourite and was a clear candidate for the position. An MP since 2002, she is the party's economic policy spokeswoman and has experience in many political areas.

But the nominating committee chose a rookie as their candidate, environmental scientist Åsa Romsson, who has only been an MP since 2010.

Romson has been described as more of a grass-roots candidate with a more environmental profile.

“I think that it is of great advantage to me that I have shown myself to believe politics a commission of trust only to be carried out during a short period of your life,“ Romson told TT.

Both women believe that the party must broaden its political scope. But where Romson is passionate about social policy, Valtersson concentrates more on employment.

According to TT, Romson thinks that it is yet too early to say which parties the Greens should consider as their political allies in the next election.

“But I find it hard to believe that we would be ready to support a prime minister from the Moderate party,” she told TT.

Valtersson, on the other hand, does not completely close the door on a co-operation with the government parties. A further alliance with the Left Party, however, is not on the cards if Valtersson has anything to say about it.

“I think that we should develop Green policies and go to election independently, “ she told TT.

The Greens will announce their new spokespeople after the vote on Saturday.

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