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POLITICS

Sweden’s Moderates make joining Nato their number one election pledge

Sweden's Moderate Party opposition has made applying to join the Nato alliance the first of five election pledges, as it becomes the first party to launch its campaign ahead of the September election.

Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson launches his five election pledges at the party's annual congress in Örebro
Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson launches his five election pledges at the party's annual congress in Örebro. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

“Sweden belongs in Nato,” Kristersson said in his speech, announcing the five main election pledges at the party’s national congress. “The question is… no longer ‘if?’, but exactly ‘when?’, and exactly ‘how?’.”

 “As Swedish prime minister, I am going to do everything to lead Sweden into Nato during the next mandate period,” Kristersson promised in his speech, made on Saturday in front of 2,000 Moderate party members in the city of Örebro.  

The party is betting big that the coming election will be fought around Sweden’s defence, with its second big pledge being to increase defence spending to two percent of GDP by 2025, and its third to “get back control on law and order”. None of the party’s main pledges concern any of the Social Democrats’ classic campaigning issues, such as health, education, pensions or welfare. 

On its website showcasing the pledges, the party promises to apply to join Nato, “if there is majority support in the parliament”. 

This shows Kristersson going much further than his predecessor Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose position was that the country should only apply for Nato membership if there was a majority in parliament, if the move was also supported by the Social Democrats, and if Finland was also joining. 

For Kristersson, the second and third of these were only ‘nice to have’. It would “be best”, Kristersson said, if Sweden were to join “as early as this spring, together with Finland”, and it would be “very much preferable”, if this were to happen “with broad political agreement over the left-right divide”.

But he made a point of no longer insisting on Reinfeldt’s two last requirements, putting pressure on the Social Democratic party to shift its own position on Nato membership. 

“It’s high time for Sweden to come out of the closet. Time to bring an end to outdated locked positions,” he said. “Let’s not beat about the bush: it’s time for the Social Democrats to change their policies on national security.”

On its third pledge on law and order, the party is betting on a series of hardline policies borrowed from neighbouring Denmark, including criminalising gang membership, imposing double-punishment on gang crimes, and deporting more people who commit crimes.

It also said it would increase the number of police officers to 32,000 by increasing salaries and paying new recruits a salary while they are educated. 

The party’s fourth pledge was to create a “completely fossil-free energy system through more nuclear power”. 

Finally, its fifth main pledge was to “bring back the arbetslinjen [literally, “work-line”] in Swedish politics,” by which it means  getting people off welfare benefits and into work. To do this, the party said it would bring in a “welfare cap”, so that it is always more worth people’s while to work than receive benefits, cut taxes on labour, and crack down on benefits fraud.

The Social Democratic party is currently polling higher than it has for about eight years, with a recent poll by Sifo putting its support at 32.8 percent to the Moderate Party’s 21.4 percent. 

But in Örebro, the Moderate Party, argued that the left and right blocs were still relatively even, with an opinion poll by Demoskop finding that, if both the Liberal Party and the Green Party falls under the four percent threshold to enter parliament (meaning their votes don’t count), there are just 13,000 votes between the right-wing and left-wing political blocs. 

“It’s completely even at the moment, as it usually is in Swedish elections,” Kristersson said. “It’s the election campaign which will make the difference.” 

Member comments

  1. How ridiculous. Why join Nato now?
    Currently, Sweden gets all the protections of Nato – without the responsibilities.
    And Sweden currently gets to remain independent.
    Be smart. Have a strong miltary. Stay out of Nato.

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ECONOMY

Swedish parliament approves government’s budget

The government's budget and controversial pensions agreement has been passed by parliament after an independent MP, who held the deciding vote, chose to support it at the last minute.

Swedish parliament approves government's budget

The budget passed by 174 to 173 votes.

As a result, guaranteed pensions for pensioners on low or no incomes will increase by up to 800 kronor a month after tax from August.

Formally, a majority of MP’s voted no to the right-wing opposition’s budget, proposed by the Moderates, the Christian Democrats, the Liberals and the Sweden Democrats, meaning that the budget proposed by the government with the support of the Green Party, the Left Party and the Centre Party was approved.

If the vote had been even on both sides, it could have been decided by drawing lots, giving each budget a 50 percent chance of being passed.

Finance Minister Mikael Damberg thanked the parties supporting the government’s budget in a press conference following the vote.

“I want to thank the parties who contributed to this: the Centre Party, the Left Party and the Green Party,” he said. “In total, a million pensioners will be affected by this proposal as soon as this autumn.”

“It’s a necessary reform which is about equality. After a life spent working in Sweden, everyone has the right to economic security in their old age.”

In an interview with public service broadcaster SVT Nyheter after the vote, leader of the conservative Moderate party, Ulf Kristersson criticised the new budget, stating that pensioners would have been better off under the opposition’s proposal.

“It harms confidence in Swedish economic policy and it’s bad for the pensioners who would have had a better pension under our proposal,” he told SVT.

“It shouldn’t ever go to drawing lots,” he told SVT, “this has been a rather telling end to a term of office which has been completely unsustainable.”

“We need governments who can govern, with a governing foundation and well-thought-out economic policy.”

On the other side of the political divide, Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar was happy to see the government’s budget passed, despite the fact that the so-called Nooshi-supplement to pensions which she had lobbied for was not included in the final pension proposal.

“It’s a long time since I was this happy,” she told SVT. “We wanted a raise in the guarantee pension from the beginning – we haven’t raised the guarantee pension by this much in over 25 years.”

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