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ALMEDALEN 2022

Left Party leader demands place in Swedish government after election

The leader of Sweden's former communist Left Party has pledged not to support a Social Democrat-led government unless it bans profit-making in the school system and gives her party ministerial positions.

Left Party leader demands place in Swedish government after election
Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar makes her speech at the Almedalen festival on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

“The Left Party, is going, with the right election result, to work together with the other parties on the left to take its place in the government, and shoulder the burden of responsibility,” Nooshi Dadgostar declared in her speech on the main stage at the Almedalen festival. 

The deal to end profit-making at Swedish schools would have to be agreed before her party would be willing to let Magdalena Andersson, Sweden’s prime minister, take up her position again in a parliamentary vote. 

“This should not be buried in some sort of [government] inquiry,” she declared. “This is something that we need to be agreed on before a vote on the prime minister.” 

At a press conference earlier in the day, Dadgostar had announced a six-point plan to end profit-making in the Swedish school system. 

The two new pledges, designed to show that her party could no longer be taken for granted, will cause headaches for the Social Democrats, as the Centre Party, their most likely coalition partner after the election, has over the past eight years refused to hold negotiations of any kind with the Left Party, let alone to rule alongside them in the same government. 

The Centre Party is also opposed to banning companies operating state-funded schools in Sweden from withdrawing profits.

“Sometimes even the Centre Party has to make compromises,” Dadgostar told reporters. 

In her speech, she reminded supporters of the major concessions her party has already extracted from the Social Democrats to win support in three recent parliamentary votes: 1,000 kronor a month for the poorest pensioners, the shelving of a plan to liberalise rents for new-build apartments, and a higher level of basic sickness benefits. 

“Our party has changed,” she said. “You perhaps think that in the Left Party talk big, but don’t make anything happen. I understand.” 

“Everyone,” she said, “has been too passive, including us. We trusted others too much. That was stupid. Today we are looking for a mandate to change Sweden for real.” 

Elsewhere in her speech, Dadgostar looked back to a time when Sweden had “the best school system in the world”, crediting it for helping her start life in Sweden on an equal footing with everyone else, despite the poverty of her refugee parents. 

But the decision to bring in a system of free schools, funded by the state but operated by profit-making private companies, she said, had destroyed Sweden’s schools, leading to schools with too few teachers, grade inflation, and increased segregation. 

“Today we have a failed education system, which created worry and disorder,” she said. “The free-market school has splintered the togetherness we had in schools.” 

She also sought to emphasise her respect for and pride in Swedish industry, part of her strategy to win over industrial workers who historically have voted for the Social Democrats. 

“Sweden went from one of the Europe’s poorest countries to one of the world’s richest,” she said of the time of Gustav Möller, the Social Democrat with perhaps the best claim to have built Sweden’s welfare state. “The country was not mainly built up high, in the corridors of power, but in paper mills and steel works, it was built by truck drivers and shop assistants.” 

It was this Sweden, she said, that the Left Party wanted to rebuild, she concluded. 

“I am in the Left Party because I want to build a stronger Sweden. We know it can be done. People’s security is politicians’ responsibility. Your security is our responsibility.” 

You can find the full speech here (in Swedish), and an English version (Google Translate) here.  

The Local will as always cover the Swedish election from the point of view of international citizens living in Sweden. In our Sweden Elects newsletter, our editor Emma Löfgren will take a look every week at the issues that affect you; the biggest talking points; the whos, hows and whys; and several extra features just for paying members (you can find out HERE how to receive the newsletter to your inbox with everything included, and membership also gives you unlimited access to all of The Local’s articles).

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2022 SWEDISH ELECTION

KEY POINTS: How election pledges would affect foreigners in Sweden

Sweden's political parties have made their first election speeches and released the key issues for their campaigns. What have they said which could affect foreigners in Sweden?

KEY POINTS: How election pledges would affect foreigners in Sweden

Social Democrats

The Social Democrats’ policies on migration are lumped together under the headline “Migration, asylum and refugee politics”, meaning there is a clear focus on topics affecting refugees and asylum seekers, and fewer policies affecting labour migrants or work permit holders.

They say, for example, that there should be “faster routes to work through language, education and housing”, and “no areas should be extremely vulnerable”, as well as proposals to provide more support to municipalities for welcoming refugees and reform laws on housing for newly-arrived refugees to prevent segregation.

They do say under the “work” section of their website, that they “want to tighten up labour migration”, which probably refers to their proposals to reintroduce arbetsmarknadsprövning – a system scrapped in 2008 where prospective labour migrants wanting to work in Sweden would only have their work permits approved if they were filling a position where there is a national shortage, and raising the salary threshold for work permits from 13,000 kronor to around 27,000 kronor.

Moderates

The Moderates’ manifesto is also lacking in policies specifically addressing immigration, although they do state that Sweden needs “tightened immigration for integration to succeed”.

On the migration policy section of their website, which is not highlighted as one of their key election issues, they propose introducing “a volume limit for reduced immigration”: a goal for how many immigrants Sweden can accept.

However, this does not cover all migrants – the Moderates specify later on that this goal is specifically for asylum-seekers in Sweden.

The right-wing Moderates do not want to reintroduce arbetsmarknadsprövning or the requirements suggested by the Social Democrats, but suggest instead that the should be a lower salary threshold should be raised to 27,540 kronor per month, which is 85 percent of the average Swedish salary (32,000 kronor per month). Seasonal workers such as berry pickers would be exempt from this requirement.

They also want to scrap the opportunity for people to change track from asylum to labour migration.

The Moderates are not opposed to working with the Sweden Democrats.

Sweden Democrats

Migration is – perhaps unsurprisingly – a key focus area on the Sweden Democrats’ website. They state that “mass migration to Sweden from illegal immigrants, economic migrants and asylum seekers has changed Sweden for the worse and has caused many societal problems that we now need to fix”.

To do this, the Sweden Democrats want to stop all refugees from countries which “are not close to us” and tighten migration policy to the “strictest possible level according to EU law”. They also want the number of migrants who do not have the right to be in Sweden leaving to be higher than the number of migrants arriving in Sweden.

They state that new arrivals in Sweden should receive “clear society information explaining what they need to do to fit in”, as well as a requirement that they “qualify themselves for welfare through supporting themselves financially”.

On citizenship, they believe that prospective applicants must “be able to speak Swedish, have knowledge of our society and our culture, have lived here for a long time and have supported themselves financially”. They further go on to say that those who don’t fulfil these requirements should “be given help to return home”.

They also propose that all foreign criminals, as well as those who are “asocial, and others who damage our society”, should be deported.

On work permits, the Sweden Democrats want to reintroduce arbetsmarknadsprövning.

Centre Party

The Centre Party has positioned itself this election as the only right-wing or borgerlig party who refuses to work with the Sweden Democrats, making it implicitly more pro-immigrant. It describes the Sweden Democrats as “xenophobic party with authoritarian leaders as its role models”.

In leader Annie Lööf’s election speech on August 5th, she described Sweden as “a mosaic of people with different backgrounds, lives and dreams”.

She further said that Sweden must not “let a racist, populist party decide how Sweden will be run,” indirectly criticising the other right-wing parties by stating that the Sweden Democrats’ views should be “a stop light for every true liberal, not a springboard to power”.

She also stated that Centre Party members “never close their eyes to issues, show that a brighter future is possible” and “stand up for everything which has made Sweden one of the world’s best countries to live in: openness, tolerance, freedom and common sense”.

On work permits, which are not a key election issue for the Centre Party, it is a proponent of keeping the current system: no to labour market testing and no to raising the lower salary limit.

Left Party

The Left Party’s election manifesto covers a number of topics, including some which are of relevance to immigrants. It wants to lower rents and build more accessible housing, improve job security and reduce gig work, specifically stating that “workers with foreign backgrounds are overrepresented in insecure, low paid and stressful jobs”.

“None of us should have to deal with racism at work or be dependent on their employer in order to be able to stay in Sweden,” the Left Party says.

The Left Party is also critical of Sweden’s right-wing parties in its election pledge, stating that right-wing politics “is about attacking immigrants, the sick, unemployed and people with disabilities, and limiting our access to welfare.”

On work permits, they are in favour of reintroducing labour market testing and against raising the minimum salary threshold.

Christian Democrats

Leader Ebba Busch’s summer election speech didn’t cover migration, with Busch choosing to focus on healthcare, climate, and law and order instead.

The Christian Democrats are not opposed to working with the Sweden Democrats, and non-election policies which could affect immigrants include their position on work permits – they want to introduce a 35,000kr salary limit, stop kompetensutvisningar or “talent deportations”, where qualified immigrants are refused a work permit based on minor administrative errors, and they want to scrap the opportunity for people to change track from asylum to labour migration.

Liberals

Integration is a key issue for the Liberals on their website, with policy focuses including a so-called förortslyft or “suburb lift”, aimed at reducing the number of areas classed as “vulnerable” where police struggle to combat crime, so that no areas of Sweden fall into this category by 2030.

The Liberals say that many “new Swedes end up in crowded suburbs marked by crime and low school results,” and that “many have their freedom and opportunities limited as they lack jobs and lack language ability.”

Their goal for combatting the exclusion they see in Sweden is to make it “easier to get a job quickly and support yourself financially – even for those who don’t speak good Swedish or lack an education”.

To do this, they propose introducing “entry-jobs for the young and new arrivals with a slightly lower salary for the first job and simpler rules”.

They also aim to prevent and work to dismantle “parallel societies”, by combatting honour-related violence “through more knowledge, but also stricter penalties”, and introducing “a stop for new religious free schools as they prevent integration”.

In addition to this, the Liberals have proposed mandatory preschool for children who don’t speak good enough Swedish, in order to aid integration. They state that “studies show that early preschool benefits children whose mothers are low-educated and whose parents are born abroad”, going on to describe these children as “the most vulnerable children”.

In order to measure levels of Swedish, they propose that they (currently optional) two-and-a-half year speech assessment for toddlers is made obligatory for parents whose children do not attend preschool, so those who “have issues with language can be identified earlier”.

Green Party

The Green Party’s key election issues are (unsurprisingly) climate and the environment, equality and democracy and human rights.

Some of its equality policies could affect immigrants, including its proposal to encourage state-owned companies to introduce a right to full-time work, as well as its goal to increase election participation in areas where rates are low – areas with high immigrant populations often fall into this category.

Finally, it wants to protect human rights and democracy and protect the rights of minorities. It states that “everyone should be able to enjoy equal rights and opportunities no matter their gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender expression or age”.

On work permits, the Greens have said in the past that they are open to somewhat increasing the lower salary limit,  but that it must still be possible for those here on a work permit to, for example, work part-time alongside their studies.

They are not in favour of reintroducing arbetsmarknadsprövning, as they believe that employers should decide which skills they need rather than the state.

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