A welder and former metal union boss started off his first official speech by saying that people in Sweden were not treated equally and that it was time to plot a feminist course for the future.
“Sweden still has a patriarchy, which we need to meet with a feminist agenda,” Löfven said.
He also put emphasis on collective responsibility by comparing Sweden to a family.
“We will build a society that functions like a happy family, where every member does his or her part, but in which they also take collective responsibility,” he told members of his party who had assembled for the party congress with elections around the corner in 2014.
Löfven kept to his party’s historical focus on jobs, arguing that the right to work full-time was still needed.
A guarantee for young Swedes to get gainful employment would also be on the cards under would-be Social Democrat leadership.
He also said his government would scrap the Phase 3 (Fas 3) programme, introduced by the current centre-right government, in which companies are paid by the state to assign tasks to long-term unemployed.
He dubbed the much-debated programme a “mock solution” to unemployment and said he would liberate the 30,000 Swedes currently enrolled in such initiatives.
Under pressure from the party’s youth wing SSU, Löfven agreed to pursue a “youth guarantee”, in which the state guarantess that young job seekers get a job or a chance to study within 90 days.
“No young people should ever be left in passivity,” he said, before adding that such a promise would have to be rolled out during a first term in office.
One of the more contentious issues on the party congress agenda is whether to cap profit in the welfare sector, which was opened to private companies by the current government. Many grass-roots Social Democrats agitate for a reform, along with the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO), but the top brass have repeatedly put their foot down.
Löfven said on Friday that there were other ways to tackle potential abuse of state funding that could lead to poor service, for example by placing greater demands on private companies to maintain adequate staffing levels. Qualitative demands could also be introduced.
“That would quite simply exclude non-serious actors from the Swedish welfare sector, but still allow serious businesses that people appreciate and trust to stay,” he said.
He tied the welfare sector to job security by saying that while Social Democrate-headed counties and municipalities were working to make sure employees had the right to full-time work if they wanted it by 2014, it was now time for the party to extend the scheme nationally if they are voted into power next year.
He also said that undercutting job security in Sweden and in the EU at large was not the answer to competing globally.
“The EU can only advance its position by investing in knowledge and innovation, not by lowering wages or worsening working conditions,” Löfven said.
Former party leader and prime minister Göran Persson called Löfven’s speech ideological and completely along the lines of a classic social democratic speech.
He also told the TT news agency that it was smart of Löfven, like himself, to set goals in tackling unemployment.
“It’s a very good political method, having the cabinet work towards a goal,” he said.