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BLOG: Sweden's political power forum - Day Eight

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BLOG: Sweden's political power forum - Day Eight
Liberal Party leader Jan Björklund. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
14:41 CEST+02:00
The Swedish Liberal Party tried to score some new support after a year of plummeting in the polls, with leader Jan Björklund taking centre stage on the final day of Almedalen.

Sunday July 5th

8.55pm Goodbye Visby

Thanks so much for following our coverage of Almedalen. The Local's journalists are all back in Stockholm now, but you can continue discussing this week's hot political topics on the hashtag #AlmedalenENG.

We've put all our coverage in a handy Almedalen 2015 section on our website, so you can also revisit the biggest and most controversial issues from the conference whenever you like.

1.15pm Reaction

Sadly for Jan Björklund, although many observers believe his was the most amusing speech of this year's Almedalen, there were only 700 people there to witness it.

Compare this with 4,600 for the prime minister, Stefan Löfven and 2,600 for the Centre Party's Annie Lööf.

12.30pm On the Alliance and the future

"After eight years in power, we lost momentum. Now is the time to do our homework. Our policies require extensive renovation. For the review to mean anything we must be able to admit that we made mistakes."

12.25pm Education

"We must take responsibility for the education of our children," Björklund has said.

This was followed by jibe aimed at the Education minister, Gustav Fridolin. "With Fridolin in office, nothing happens."

12.23pm Housing

"When you look at the Swedish housing policy you get the impression that its aim is to prevent construction of new houses."

"One recognizes the government's economic planning when you see it. No plan, no planning and no houses."

"We should abolish the so-called relocation tax. It prevents people from moving because it is too expensive," Björklund has said.

12.23pm On liberalism

"A party that puts the individual's needs at the centre has a special responsibility to build a society which includes everyone. That is social liberalism."

12.21pm Critical now of the government

"Stefan Löfven says jobs, jobs, jobs. But what he means is tax, tax, tax." 

12.20pm Helping the disabled

"Everyone, regardless of circumstances, to have the freedom to live her life to the full."

"In our policy reviews, we are looking at how to create better living conditions for people with disabilities."

"It is our liberal mission to ensure that freedom is increasing most for those who need it most," Björklund has told the crowd.

12.10pm Björklund moves on to the Greek crisis

"The left-wing populist government in Greece do not want to implement the economic liberalisation necessary".

"Everybody wants to be Europe's friend when the weather is fair. But cooperation is most needed when the weather is against you."

12pm Jan Björklund begins his speech

Following yesterday's scare featuring Russian bombers being spotted east of Gotland, Björklund cuts straight to the chase.

"There is no greater threat to liberal values today, than Putin's Russia."

"Swedish Governments have, time after time, gone easy on the Kremlin".

"Olof Palme (renowned ex-Swedish Social Democratic prime minister) said: 'we are not anti-Soviet'. But his party still dedicates itself to anti-Americanism.”

10.25am Jan Björklund facing a possible leadership challenge

According to a poll undertaken by the Aftonbladet newspaper, Björklund's failure to arrest the Liberal Party's slide in popularity could cost him the leadership. The poll asked Liberal Party sympathisers who they would like to lead the party. Björklund came top with 32 per cent but foreign policy spokesperson and ex-minister, Birgitta Ohlsson, and EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström polled 40 percent between them, Ohlsson with 24 percent and Malmström with 16 percent.

This could be a testing day for Björklund.

7.15am Who are the Swedish Liberals?

The Liberal Party is part of the centre-right Alliance opposition. Its core supporters are middle-class voters. The party is focused on improving education, joining Nato and nucelar expansion. It also promotes what it calls "feminism without socialism", aiming to secure equal opportunities by investing in work sectors dominated by women and encouraging men to share childcare responsibilities. 

However, as we just mentioned, the party has been plummeting in the polls and a survey by Sifo last month put its approval ratings at 4.6 percent, meaning it would just about scrape a seat in parliament if an election was held today.

7.00am Good morning -- and farewell

It's the eighth and final day of Almedalen. We have certainly enjoyed the hustle and bustle of Sweden's power politics (who knew it could be so exciting?) in a very sunny Visby and hope you have had fun reading our live coverage of all the key moments of this annual conference.

Sweden's Liberals are running Sunday's show, led by party head Jan Björklund who is set to give his keynote speech at noon. A former major in the Swedish army, the 53-year-old first became a member of parliament in 2006. But his party has been struggling in polls lately and it has been suggested his leadership is hanging by a thread, so he will be hoping to make a good impact today.

Don't understand what Almedalen is all about? Find out more here about Sweden's most important week in politics.

Still don't know your Social Democrats from your Moderates? Read The Local's handy guide to Sweden's power players here.

Oh, and don't forget to join in the debate in English on Twitter via the hashtag #AlmedalenENG.

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