Last Party Leader Debate as Confidence Levels Diverge
The last party leader debate before Sweden's September general election was held in the parliament in Stockholm on Wednesday morning. And the election was indeed the point at issue—both blocks readily took the chance to air their political programs.
Current prime minister and Moderate party leader Fredrik Reinfeldt compared his center-right plans with those of red-green rivals this way:
"Our alliance is for taking responsibility for Sweden, for order in the public finances, an alliance for work, an alliance for knowledge. Against us stands an unpolished red-green alternative, aimed at challenging the notion that jobs build strong welfare societies, with the stance of investing in hand-outs rather than work. In this important choice of path I hope the Swedish people make a sensible decision."
But Reinfeldt's rival, Social Democrat leader Mona Sahlin, said that the center-right alliance's politics only serve to benefit the rich while income differences continue to rise. She finished her speech with a challenge:
"There are 95 days left until Sweden and voters stand at a crossroads. Which Sweden do we want, not just the next four years but a long time in the future? Are we going to leave our unique model by the wayside or not? Is it a society with jobs, security and solidarity, or a society with even larger divisions?"
The debate was conducted in the shadow of fresh confidence ratings that give Reinfeldt a sizeable edge over his Social Democratic rival. The Moderate leader got better marks than Sahlin in every category surveyed, including representation abroad and leadership at home.
Sixty percent of those polled said that they would rather have Reinfeldt leading Sweden if the country plunged into a serious crisis, while only 20 percent chose Sahlin. The same gap holds for financial matters, as well: 58 percent answered that Reinfeldt had decent competence to handle the economy, while Sahlin only managed 28 percent.
But the final answer will come on September 19, when Swedes make their way to the polls.