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Green Party kicks off conference in midst of internal crisis

Updated fredag 13 maj 2016 kl 16.13
Published fredag 13 maj 2016 kl 11.17
Party member: "An important thing like this, the party decides, not the media".
(4:12 min)
Åsa Romson (centre) at her send-off at the Green Party conference in Karlstad, pictured here with the proposed new spokespeople pair, Isabella Lövin and Gustav Fridolin.
Åsa Romson (centre) at her send-off at the Green Party conference in Karlstad, pictured here with the proposed new spokespeople pair, Isabella Lövin and Gustav Fridolin. Photo: Thomas Johansson/TT Credit: Thomas Johansson

The Green Party is kicking off its conference today with the hope of a new start following a series of internal crises.

The Greens, which are part of Sweden's coalition government with the Social Democrats, are facing a triple-crisis situation affecting its leadership, its values and its politics. According to a recent poll from Novus/TV4, voter support for the Green Party is now at a record-low of 4.5 per cent, down from 6.9 per cent in the 2014 general election.

One important step towards resolving the crisis is the appointment of a new, female spokesperson. Isabella Lövin was proposed for the post by the party’s nominating committee earlier this week, and she is expected to be approved this afternoon. Gustav Fridolin, the Green Party’s current male spokesperson, has been put forward for re-election.

Parts of the recent turbulence within the party has been put down to the current spokesperson Åsa Romson, who has been criticised for lacking leadership qualities and having low voter support. Romson announced this week that she would step down as Minister for Climate and the Environment. Some party members however think that Fridolin should also resign, based on what they see as poor handling of the past weeks’ crisis.

The Greens are also facing a crisis over the party’s values. The former Minister for Housing Mehmet Kaplan was forced to resign after it was revealed he had had close contacts with extremist organisations, and Yasri Khan, a candidate for the party board, resigned over a controversy caused over his refusal to shake hands with women. These events caused the party to send out an open letter to all of its members, stating that the Green Party should treat men and women equally, that it has zero tolerance for racism, and that the party should not blame its problems on the media.

The third and perhaps biggest crisis is down to the Green Party having had to let go of some of its core political values in order to stay in government. In its election manifesto the party pledged “never to make it more difficult for people to get to Sweden.” Now, the party has agreed to introducing border controls between Denmark and Sweden, and for Sweden to adopt the EU’s minimum level of refugee reception. The party has also been forced to back down on some of its key environmental issues, such as the sale of the state-owned energy company Vattenfall’s coal mines in Germany.

In a bid to soften the criticism, the Green Party is due to present a report today claiming that it is about to fulfil two thirds of its election manifesto pledges. But expectations for Fridolin’s promised “new start” vary amongst party members, and the two-day conference in Karlstad is set to be rife with debate over the path to be taken by the party hereon.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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