Meet Sweden’s Christian Democrat party: ‘family first’

Meet Sweden's Christian Democrat party: 'family first'
Party leader Ebba Busch Thor (not interviewed). Photo: Truls Busch Christensen
This week was the anniversary of the Swedish Christian Democrat party. We spoke with board member and press secretary Helena Klange to find out a little more about the party, their history and values.

Tell me a bit about the party's founding. How did the party come into being?

The party was founded in 1964. In Sweden, besides the Swedish Church, there are many other smaller free churches. It was a small religious church, Pingst Church, that founded the party.

We changed our name 10 years ago, though it was not a big change.

What differentiates the Christian Democrat party from other parties?

We have a fundamental belief in Christian values, although, not everyone in the party belongs to the church. For example, we think it’s very important to take care of suffering people. We believe people have rights and that we have certain demands towards the state.

Do those rights extend to something such as abortion – something Christians are traditionally against?

Absolutely. Each family should decide.

What is your role in the party? Describe a typical day.

As a press secretary, there is no typical day!

Tell me about your schedule today.

We began with a morning meeting – we do this everyday. We spend our morning meetings looking at the media, taking a look at what’s happening in society. Someone will prepare a media report – today it was me! We looked at what’s happening in London as well as happenings regarding women’s rights and work permits. From this media report we’ll start our day; should we write an article? Or how can we address the problem. 

Some reporters may want to talk with our leader, but this is not always possible!

Describe a typical Christian Democrat voter.

Unfortunately, a bit old! I would say they’re usually 50 years old plus, and they don’t usually live in Stockholm, Malmö or Gothenburg. They either live close to the big cities or in smaller cities.

Do you try to appeal to younger voters?

Yes. Our four main priorities are family, work, safety and care. 

How to get work in the future and safety issues, I think would appeal most to the younger voter. 

Could you talk more about your four main priorities?

In terms of family, they should have more rights. For work, we want to make it easier to start businesses. Safety, certain crimes should be punished more. And care, the quality of care for older people should be improved.

Could you talk more about the different aspects?

In Sweden, new parents get 300 days paid leave. We don’t believe the state should decide how the parents split that time/share the parental responsibilities – it should be completely up to the family. 

We also believe the money paid from the state to the new parents…the parents should be able to use the money how they like. For example if the grandmother in the family is sick, they should be able to use the money to help her. The state shouldn’t have such a say in family matters. 

Many people think of Sweden as a secular nation. How do you view the relation between Sweden, religion, and your party?

Since our party was founded by religious people, there is still a big group who think religion is important. 

When I tell people what political party I work for, the two things they always ask me are:

  1. Why are you against abortion?
  2. Do I have to believe in God to join the party?

People from all religions are welcome in our party! The church and state are separate. While the main group in our party are Christian, they are not in conflict with the state.

The younger party voters/members are not as religious, but our party has good values so they support us.

For me, politics is the priority. 

What are your main priorities ahead of the 2018 election?

When we begin our budget process in a couple of weeks we will have a better idea! But mainly it will be the four I mentioned: family, work, safety and care.

The audience reading this consists of international students here in Sweden on scholarships from the Swedish Institute. If they should remember one thing about the Christian Democrat party when they return home, what should it be?

Family. I think if you asked a normal Swede, they would say family too. But there are many aspects to this.

 

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