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Centre Party split over radical proposals

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Centre Party split over radical proposals
11:35 CET+01:00
Open borders, polygamy, and an end to compulsory schooling are some of the proposals outlined in the controversial new Centre Party programme which has caused rifts in the already troubled party.

As support for Centre Party leader Annie Lööf plummets, the proposed programme risks splitting the party, which is part of the centre-right coalition government.

The radical programme has drawn harsh criticism from within the party ranks, with leading members in Skåne in southern Sweden deciding to draft a counter proposal ahead of the party convention in March.

They claim that there is a great rift between a neo-liberal "Stockholm Centre" and "the classic core voters in rural areas".

"If the Centre Party is to have continued impact on Swedish politics, the proposal must be amended. This will not do. It can harm us in the next election," Per-Ingvar Johnsson, a member of parliament from Åhus in Skåne, told regional broadsheet Sydsvenskan.

Centre Party leader Annie Lööf said that she is aware of the heated debate within the party and reminded members that they have until February 5th to give their views on the proposed programme.

"I hope we can continue to have a really good and lively debate about the ideas up until the convention," said Lööf.

Support for Lööf is at a historic low. Only one in five Swedish voters have confidence in her, making her the second least trusted party head after Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson.

That is according to a Sifo Institute opinion poll ordered by the tabloid Aftonbladet this week.

Lööf also pointed out that the committee that drafted the programme over the past year is "deeply anchored" in the Centre Party.

Around 220 local party chapters and 10,000 individuals have been involved in drafting the programme, said Lööf, and added that it would be unfortunate if the party split into different camps.

"The aim of the whole process is to unify the Centre Party and to clarify what we are about", she said.

Lööf seems confident that a programme will be ready in March which the whole of the Centre Party will be able to get behind, even if there are some controversial proposals in the draft version.

Lööf said she will not support polygamy or the proposals on amending inheritance laws.

However, she does support the proposals that deal with green decentralization, self-determination, and enterprise.

As regards free immigration, Lööf said there is a need to clarify what that means in practice. She emphasized that the programme describes a "vision" and not a political action plan.

The draft programme will be reviewed by the party board before being officially accepted at the party convention in March.

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