Swedish opposition leader: ‘We are agreed enough on the big issues’

Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson kicked off his party's election campaign on Thursday, with a speech that presented himself as the only candidate backed by a coalition of parties with a common programme.

Swedish opposition leader: 'We are agreed enough on the big issues'
Moderate party leader Ulf Kristersson speaks at his party's election kickoff in Norrköping on August 4th. Photo: Magnus Andersson/TT

In a speech in front of four hundred Moderate party members in the city of Norrköping, Kristersson said that unlike ruling the Social Democrats, his party was backed by three other parties that were agreed on enough to get necessary reforms enacted in government. 

“We have slowly but surely built a team on our side of politics which is ready and has both the will and the ability,” he said. “Four different parties which are not agreed on everything, but which are sufficiently agreed on the big issues to together get results.” 

He reiterated the praise he had given to the populist Sweden Democrats party in his speech at the Almedalen political festival at the start of July. 

“No other party has warned as consistently as the Sweden Democrats that Sweden cannot continue to increase immigration if we want to handle the problems with integration,” he said. “And that’s something I appreciate.” 

He praised the Christian Democrats for their focus on healthcare and elderly care, and welcomed back the Liberals, saying he was glad they had “found their way home to the political right”. 

READ ALSO: Swedish opposition leader: This election is about cash in people’s wallets

He stressed, however, that the Moderates’ decision in the autumn of 2019 to work with all political parties, including the Sweden Democrats had been “pragmatic but not at all without principle”. 

“On the contrary,” he said. “We have strong values which we do not compromise on.” 

He dismissed Social Democrat claims that Moderate warnings that they will bring back Sweden’s property tax were “disinformation”, pointing out that Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist had also called it “disinformation” when Kristersson predicted that the Social Democrats would change their policy towards joining the Nato Alliance.

He claimed that the Social Democrats in Stockholm wanted to bring back the property tax, as did The Swedish Trade Union Confederation, the Social Democrats’ youth organisation, the Left Party, and the Green Party. 

Let’s all take a bet on what would happen if the Social Democrats become dependent on the Left Party and the Green Party after the election,” he said. “Then they’ll bring in the property tax. Elisabeth Svantesson [the Moderates’ finance spokesperson] is right. You can’t trust the Social Democrats.” 

In the speech, Kristersson tried to give a more positive spin on the campaign, talking about how once the party takes power they will focusing on “building a Sweden to be proud of again”.  

With the left and right political blocks nearly equal in size at the start of the campaign, Kristersson said there was still everything to fight for. 

“This is an extremely good starting point,” he said. “Victory is within reach, but it is absolutely not yet won!” 

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Swedish PM: Moderate Party’s property tax warnings ‘completely absurd’

Sweden's prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, has yet again denied that her party plans to bring back a property tax, calling the Moderate Party's decision to campaign on the issue 'completely absurd'.

Swedish PM: Moderate Party's property tax warnings 'completely absurd'

In a long interview broadcast on Swedish state radio broadcaster SR, Andersson stressed that her party had no plans to bring back the property tax abolished by the Moderate-led government back in 2008. 

“We are not going to campaign on the back of a property tax, have no plans to do it, and have shown over the last eight years that we are not doing it,” she said. “It is completely absurd that the Moderates are running their campaign about this for the third or fourth time in a row. They were cranking this out in 2014, 2018 and now in 2022, and we have not brought back the property tax.” 

When pushed by the interviewer, however, Andersson refused to absolutely rule out making any changes to Sweden’s system of property taxation. 

“If I start to draw red lines, I will risk creating an even more locked situation after the election,” she said. “But there’s no question over what I believe. If you don’t want to bring back property tax, you should vote for the Social Democrats.” 

The Swedish Trade Union Confederation LO, is in favour of bringing back the property tax, which it describes as “one of the best taxes”, as is the Left Party.

After the interview, Tobias Billström and Elisabeth Svantesson, the Moderate Party’s group leader and financial spokesperson, said that by refusing to rule out bringing back the tax, Andersson had justified their decision to campaign on the issue. 

“Unequivocal message from Magdalena Andersson today in P1 Morgon,” Billström wrote on Twitter. “If the Left Party wants property tax to be reintroduced, it will happen. There are no red lines from S.” 

“Bringing back property tax is on the negotiating table,” Svantesson wrote. “She has no red lines there. Important — but expensive — message for Swedish households.” 

Andersson did, however, say that the Social Democrats want to raise taxes, saying that the party planned to bring in a new tax to fund building back Sweden’s defence capabilities, a so-called beredskapsskatt, or “preparedness tax”. 

“So that this will not end up taking priority over schools, pensions, healthcare and elderly care, we think that those with the highest incomes should be able to pay just a little bit extra towards this,” she said, although she would not go into detail on how “highest incomes” would be defined. 

“But in the economic situation we are in, it’s not the time to raise taxes for ordinary households,” she said.