Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats launch ‘presidential’ election campaign

The Social Democrats rolled out their election campaign on Thursday, focusing heavily on leader Magdalena Andersson, law and order, and jobs, and dropping the environment as a priority.

Sweden's ruling Social Democrats launch 'presidential' election campaign
Social Democrat election posters on pensions, limiting profits for free schools, and law and order issues. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

In a press conference held by party secretary Tobias Baudin, the ruling Social Democrats revealed their campaign posters for the upcoming election on September 11th.

Climate issues

The absence of campaign posters addressing the issue of climate change and the environment was conspicuous, with Baudin explaining when questioned that it is still a priority for the Social Democrats, as the climate transition (klimatomställning) is a “huge opportunity” to create more jobs.

“It’s an opportunity to create more jobs in our country,” he said. “I’m from Norrbotten myself and there’s a lack of jobs there. That’s why it’s so obvious that everyone who can work, should work, and here we see the climate transition as a huge opportunity.”

Furthermore, he said, the climate issue will be “more prominent on social media”, where younger voters are more likely to see it.

Win the election

Baudin also explained the Social Democrats’ goal for the upcoming election.

“Formally, our goal is to get a better result than last time, where we got 28.3%,” he said. “We’ve got good hopes of breaking that with a good margin. Our focus, and my focus, obviously, is to get as many votes as possible.”

“The more votes we get, the better chance we have of carrying out the policies we are going into the election with.”

He did, however, indicate that the party could be open to forming a coalition government following September’s election.

“Our goal is to form a Social Democrat government or a Social Democrat-led government after the election,” he said.

“We can work with all parties apart from the Sweden Democrats, but obviously those who are closest to us are the Greens, the Left Party and the Centre Party”.

Moderates ‘still have a lot of questions to answer’

The opposition right-wing Moderates recently announced their own election campaign focusing on issues where the opposition parties are united in their disagreement with the Social Democrats.

Baudin was disparaging of that campaign, accusing them of dodging the larger issues.

“I noted that they agreed on eleven points,” he said. “One, for example, was that you should be able to make a living by working.”

“I think a lot of people probably agree on that,” he smirked.

“But the big questions – should we have state-run healthcare? State-run schools? The raised threshold in A-kassa? Should that stay? What about foreign policy? What does being dependent on the Sweden Democrats mean for our role in the EU? Connections to Russia? What kind of equality policy will there be? The Liberals’ or the Sweden Democrats’?”

“They still have a lot of questions to answer.”

A presidential-style campaign?

The Social Democrats also revealed four posters focusing on Magdalena Andersson and other prominent party figures, such as Finance Minister Mikael Damberg, Health Minister Lena Hallengren, and Baudin himself.

When asked whether this focus on Andersson and her leadership was a sign that the Social Democrats were aiming for a presidential-style election comparing Andersson to the Moderates’ leader Ulf Kristersson, Baudin did not give a clear answer, choosing instead to focus on Andersson’s leadership.

“We have a party leader who has a high level of voter confidence, she has also handled many crises since November last year […] she’s a very competent party leader and prime minister. And she’s good for Sweden, lots of people also are clear on that.”

My task, our task is to be clear that if you want her as Prime Minister, you can’t vote for the Moderates or the Sweden Democrats. If you want her as Prime Minister, if you want her to lead our country, you have to vote for us.”

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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.