We ‘kept out’ right-wing extremism with election outcome: Swedish PM

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven praised January’s cross-aisle government agreement in a speech given at a conference of the Social Democratic party in Örebro.

We 'kept out' right-wing extremism with election outcome: Swedish PM
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven speaks at the Social Dmocrat conference in Örebro. Photo: Filip Erlind/TT

Löfven cited keeping “right-wing extremism”, in the form of the populist Sweden Democrats, away from power as he spoke about the agreement taken with centre-right parties in the January agreement.

“We kept right-wing extremism away from power,” he said.

The PM also said that the Social Democrats would be able to deliver promises made during the election campaign, with the new government now in place.

He promised billions of kronor for healthcare, schools and housing, more spending on the elderly and initiatives for families with children.

But Löfven also framed the eventual election outcome, in which his party and the Green Party entered coalition with the de facto support of the Centre, Liberal and Left parties, as “an important ideological victory”.

“But most important of all is to see this as a basis – the beginning of an ambitious agenda for reform,” he added.

The January agreement between the Social Democratic Party, Greens, Liberals and Centre Party prevented the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats from gaining influence by supporting a potential government led by the liberal conservative Moderate party.

Löfven used his conference speech to warn against right-wing extremists who target dissatisfied voters by directing their frustration towards minorities.

“And they are ready to ally themselves with the part of the right (wing) which represents society’s wealthiest,” he said.

“They have succeeded before. But friends, they should never succeed again,” he continued.

The PM also spent much of his speech focusing on education, which he said could help to even out class differences in society.

He also said he wanted to make Sweden’s school system one of the world’s best in terms of equality and performance.

In 2019's first debate between party leaders in January, Social Democrat leader Löfven stated that far-right nationalist forces are growing stronger across Europe.

“Sweden has chosen another path,” he emphasized.

READ ALSO: What does Sweden's government deal mean for internationals?

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What’s the Swedish Christian Democrats’ abortion contract all about?

Ebba Busch, leader of Sweden's Christian Democrats on Monday presented an "abortion contract", which she wants all of Sweden's party leaders to sign. What's going on?

What's the Swedish Christian Democrats' abortion contract all about?

What’s happened? 

Ebba Busch, leader of Sweden’s Christian Democrat party, called a press conference on Monday in which she presented a document that she called “an abortion contract”, which was essentially a pledge to safeguard the right of women in Sweden to have an abortion.  

“There is room for signatures from all eight party leaders,” she said. “I have already signed on behalf of the Christian Democrats.” 

What does the so-called “abortion contract” say? 

The document itself is fairly uncontroversial.

It states simply that Sweden’s law on abortion dates back to 1974, and that it grants women the right to an abortion up until the 18th week of pregnancy, with women seeking abortions later in their pregnancy required to get permission from the National Board of Health and Welfare. 

“Those of us who have signed this document support Sweden’s abortion legislation and promise to defend it if it comes under attack from forces both within our country and from outside,” the document reads.  

Why have the Christian Democrats produced it? 

The decision of the US Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade, and so allow US states to ban abortion has aroused strong feelings in Sweden, as elsewhere, and Busch is seeking to send a strong signal to distance her own Christian party from the US religious right. 

Abortion has been a recurring issue within the Christian Democrats with several politicians and party members critical of abortion. 

Lars Adaktusson, a Christian Democrat MP, was found by the Dagens Nyheter newspaper to have voted against abortion 22 times when he was a member of the European parliament. 

The party has also in the past campaigned for the right of midwives and other medical professionals who are ethically opposed to abortion not to have to take part in the procedure. 

So why aren’t all the other party leaders signing the document? 

Sweden’s governing Social Democrats, and their Green Party allies, dismissed the contract as a political gimmick designed to help the Christian Democrats distance themselves from elements of their own party critical of abortion. 

“It would perhaps be good if Ebba Busch did some homework within her own party to check that there’s 100 percent support for Sweden’s abortion legislation,” Magdalena Andersson, Sweden’s prime minister, said. “That feels like a more important measure than writing contracts between party leaders and trying to solve it that way.”  

In a debate on Swedish television, Green Party leader Märta Stenevi argued that it would be much more significant if Busch’s own MPs and MEPs all signed the document. 

It wasn’t other party leaders who needed to show commitment to abortion legislation, but “her own MPs, MEPs, and not least her proposed government partners in the Sweden Democrats and even some within the Moderate Party”. 

She said it made her “very very worried” to see that the Christian Democrats needed such a contract. “That’s why I see all this more as a clear sign that we need to move forward with protecting the right to abortion in the constitution,” she said. 

How have the other right-wing parties reacted? 

The other right-wing parties have largely backed Busch, although it’s unclear if any other party leaders are willing to actually sign the document. 

Tobias Billström, the Moderates’ group parliamentary leader, retweeted a tweet from Johan Paccamonti, a Stockholm regional politician with the Moderate Party, which criticised the Social Democrats for not signing it, however. 

“It seems to be more important to blow up a pretend conflict than to sign the Christian Democrats’ contract or look at the issue of [including abortion rights in] the constitution, like the Moderates, Liberals and Centre Party want to,” Paccamonti wrote. 

The Liberal Party on Sunday proposed protecting abortion rights in the Swedish constitution, a proposal which has since been backed by the Moderate party and the Centre Party