Political Economy

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Swedish Politics: How the American election debate style is shaping Swedish politics

Monday, 07 October 2013
When compared to the American presidential style debate, or even the British "Question to the Prime minister" - style debate in the British parliament, Swedish political leaders' debate has always been ignore as being boring and less charismatic in nature.
It is true that in our time we will likely not see anybody with a speaking authority like US president, Barack Obama.

Nevertheless, I assure you that the Swedish forth-coming election is likely going to change the perception we hold on Swedish politics.
I say this looking at the debate the leaders for the Swedish political parties had, broadcast on Swedish television last night. Some commentators have described the encounter as "spiteful, feverish and aggressive" and as a duel that is rarely seen in Swedish politics.

The Swedish elections is about a year away, but it felt like it's around the corner, the way they went at each other on the first hour of the debate. It was noticed that an unusual amount of ground was at stake for each party leader to try and clears out.
The increasing gap in the opinion polls between the governing Alliance coalition and the Red-Green parties shows with brutal clarity that Fredrik Reinfeldt is making his final years as Prime Minister. He has been described as being tired and that he should leave quietly. But it did not look that way.

Swedish political party leader debateSwedish political party debate - Sunday / image Swedish Television
The two hours of debate touch many topics - health care, jobs, taxes, climate change, refugee policy, school and crime. It did not look like new information emerged from the party leaders on how the planned to run the country as they seem to hold on their position and with the use of increased hard tone.

Reinfeldt went out hard and relentlessly in a duel with Stefan Löfven, leader of the Social Democrats, who is currently gradually creeping into his job and asked him to read his own budget motions. But Löfven looked safer and more secure in the debate though he still lacks the time to be as polished as Reinfeldt.

One very important issue that emerged in the debate was a fierce battle over who should be most trusted to manage the country. Some of sympathy may have landed at Löfven when Reinfeldt smiled in a way that could be perceived as mockery as Löfven hammered on JOBS, JOBS, JOBS and tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts. Swedish people hate a political leader who mocks another irrespective of their position. Respect and clarity in Swedish politics is paramount so as the debate ranged on, body language, tone and speaking attitudes - the way their contemporaries were addressed was very vital.

For policy prescription or a recap of it, the Red-Green warned the governing Alliance that they are in line of destroying what little is thought left of the Swedish welfare system by relentlessly reducing taxes on borrowed money and privatising welfare delivering systems to companies based in tax havens. The Alliance argues that it is possible to both reduce taxes and have a good welfare system. Stefan Löfven said he "hates unemployment" and pointed to the rise in unemployment and long-term unemployment that has tripled since Reinfeldt became Prime Minister in 2006.

"I have learned to hate something worse, namely exclusion, "countered Reinfeldt. Exclusion refers to discrimination in the Swedish job market especially seen among immigrants such as the blacks and the Arabs- looking people.

He pointed out that the number of early retirees declined from 550,000 to 365,000 under his government but Löfven attacked the government for borrowing to cover their tax cuts and said there must be an end to persistent continuous tax cuts. "It's a bad deal., we will invest in jobs, education and welfare, "said Löfven.

Despite Löfven talked about jobs and economic policies, his focus on jobs was obscured partially by tax talks.

Others such as Annie Loof took place and had a fierce duel with Asa Romson on the rural economic policies and others such as the sick holidays.

Jonas Sjöstedt of the Left party demonstrated his skilful debate style when he duelled with Jimmie Åkesson on the fifth earned income tax credit. Sjöstedt actually is running his own race because the Left party has not yet been adapted to the other parties.  

Reinfeldt got angry and asked repeated questions about whether Löfven can promise the Swedish people to form a majority government.

"I'll tell you how I see the government issue. I will determine the timing of when I'll do it and then everyone will hear, "said Löfven. He added, however, that the most important news of the government would issue after the election results are clear.
Stefan Löfven accused Reinfeldt for cementing a coalition that has worked well in the past. He show how the social democrats had worked well in the past with the centre party and the Christian People's party of policy issues and as the Reinfeldt relaxes his grip on the coalition.
by Scancomark.com Team

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