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Here's what Sweden talked about ahead of the EU elections

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Here's what Sweden talked about ahead of the EU elections
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, centre, on the campaign bus. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT
11:24 CEST+02:00
With the EU elections taking place on Sunday in Sweden, what are the key talking points? The Local takes a look at the stories and issues dominating the Swedish election campaign.

A groping scandal

The top candidate for the far-right Sweden Democrats has faced accusations of groping a party colleague. Another senior candidate, Kristina Winberg, was ousted after speaking to media about the groping.

The party announced on Sunday that MEP Kristina Winberg had been crossed off the party's ballot for the European election for "conspiring to smear party colleagues, with the help of the media". 

Swedish tabloid Expressen said that its reporter had confronted the Sweden Democrats' top candidate Peter Lundgren a day earlier with allegations he had touched a female colleague's breasts. The woman in question and Winberg discussed the alleged incident in two taped phone conversations, Expressen reported.

Peter Lundgren first denied the allegations, but then told the newspaper: "I probably touched her breasts when we were sitting there, we were pretty drunk that night, and she pushed my hands away. I know that I put my hand on her breast but not with the intention that anything would happen. Not at all."

READ ALSO: Who are the Swedish parties and what do they want?


Peter Lundgren is pictured being interviewed earlier this week. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Lundgren has been reported to the police and a preliminary investigation has been opened into sexual harassment, but remains the Sweden Democrats' top candidate.

Meanwhile, he has reported Winberg for slander, and the Sweden Democrats released a video of Lundgren and the woman he groped.

In the video, Lundgren says he was "a dumbo" and the woman describes the party at which the incident took place as fun and that "it's unfortunate that it became as stupid as it did".

The right to abortion

Women's right to safe, legal abortion has become a key question in the election campaign.

Christian Democrat Lars Adaktusson, the party's spokesperson on foreign policy and a sitting MEP, was revealed by Dagens Nyheter to have voted against the right to abortion 22 times in the European Parliament. He voted in favour four times, and abstained twice.

In the same votes, MEPs from Sweden's other parties voted in favour except the Sweden Democrats, who abstained in 12 votes, voted in favour in 12, and against in one vote.


From left, Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch Thor with the party's deputy spokesperson Jakob Forssmed and Adaktusson. Photo:  Pavel Koubek/TT

The Social Democrats, Centre and Liberal Parties have spoken out against Adaktusson's decision, with Prime Minister and Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven saying the politician should not be allowed to remain in Christian Democrat leadership. The party's official line is that it supports Swedish abortion law but that it wants to work to reduce the number of abortions and unplanned pregnancies.

In Sweden, women have the right to abortion for any reason within the first 18 weeks of pregnancy, but elsewhere in the EU, the procedure is in practice hard to access – for example in Italy where the vast majority of doctors refuse to carry it out – or outlawed completely, as in Northern Ireland where the procedure is illegal in almost every circumstance.

LONG READ: How Sweden got some of the most liberal abortion laws in the world

Threats against politicians

Politicians' safety and the need to protect democracy has also been a talking point during this campaign.

Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson was the victim of a suspected attack on Thursday, when an unknown person threw a banger at the politician's car as he and his security guards left a meeting in Mariestad, near Stockholm. 


Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson speaking to media. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven called the incident "an attack on our democracy" as he expressed sympathy to Åkesson and his family.

And on Friday, a second banger was thrown close to Åkesson as he continued on the campaign trail in Tranås, central-southern Sweden.

It came one week after an attack on a 15-year-old who was working as a canvasser at a Sweden Democrat election cabin in central Borås. An unknown person threw a coca cola drink over the teenager and ran away, Borås Tidning reported, and when the 15-year-old later spotted the perpetrator and took a photo on his phone, he was reportedly assaulted by several people.

Climate issues and alternatives to flying

As in the general election in September, climate issues are once again one of the highest priorities for voters.

Sweden's Green Party are to campaign for half the European Union's long-term budget to go towards climate investments and initiatives, as part of the "Green New Deal" agreed with other European green parties.

The Centre Party have also made climate issues a central part of their campaign, focusing on several ideas to make air travel more climate friendly, for example by emissions trading.

... but nothing about Swexit

Sweden's two most eurosceptic parties, the Left Party and Sweden Democrats, both dropped their longstanding pledges for Sweden to leave the EU earlier in the year, meaning that none of the country's major parties is actively campaigning for an exit from the EU.

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