‘Poison is spreading’ in the land: finance minister

'Poison is spreading' in the land: finance minister
Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson in Västerås. Photo: TT
In an unusually personal speech at a Social Democratic party conference on Sunday, Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson talked of the need to counter a “poison” of inequality and xenophobia spreading across Sweden.

At the party meeting in Västerås, Andersson said her party should not only work on fulfilling promises made about unemployment and schools, it also had to neutralize the “poison and hate” that were proliferating due to “ignorance” and anti-foreigner sentiment.

She spoke of her personal experience as a high-school exchange student in the United States. There, divisions within the classroom were stark and reflected the inequality of American society. Those students bussed to her school from surrounding poor areas performed at the very bottom of the class, she said.

The general lack of interaction between poor and well-off students was frightening to a Swedish teenager.

“And now I stand here, 30 years later, and see how the same poison is spreading in my country,” she said.

“It spreads in little ways, in comments and abuse, in the streets and on the web,” she added. “It spreads in big ways, such as in electoral successes based on xenophobia.”

Andersson claimed the best strategy to counter this was through policies that boost employment, improve school performance and successfully manage the social-welfare system.

According to her, the country’s economic policies must aim to bridge the growing rifts in society and hold the country together. 

“If a party lacks credibility when it comes to economic questions, that party is not going to earn the people’s trust,” she said. 

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