“Our country has over 10 million residents with varying backgrounds and experiences, and different dreams for the future. Around a fifth are children and young people. Almost as many were born in another country and immigrated here. Together, all of these individuals form Sweden. It is them who you represent in the Riksdag's chamber. You are the foremost representatives of the people,” the Swedish monarch said in his traditional speech at the opening of the new Riksdag session.
“We should meet each other with respect. That word is a good starting point for public conversation. Including when we have different opinions,” he noted before declaring the 2017-18 parliamentary year open.
Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson was one of the MPs who wore traditional dress to the ceremony. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven then read a statement presenting the government’s intended policies for the year, including a 750 million kronor ($94 million) boost for law enforcement agencies in an effort to combat crime.
Löfven also addressed racism in Sweden and neo-Nazi group the Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM), who will stage a march near a synagogue in Gothenburg on the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur at the end of September.
“We have an obligation to remember, because if we don't remember history's wrongs, violence and hatred can prevail again,” he warned, referring to NRM demonstrations in Sweden during 2017.
“Soon they will congregate in Gothenburg. It's frightening. The government will now pull together work against racism and hate crimes in a national plan of action. There are groups in our country who are more scared than ever. Security for minority groups and religious spaces will be heightened. Work for the rights of trans people strengthened. Protection against hate and hate crimes increased,” the PM added.
PM Stefan Löfven giving his speech. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
The opening of parliament marks the start of the final year of the current Social Democrat-Green government’s mandate period following the last general election in 2014. Sweden will hold fresh elections in September 2018.