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Party leaders duke it out on immigration, brown coal

Published måndag 30 maj 2016 kl 10.25
Political commentator: About classic left and right issues
(2:20 min)
Statsminister Stefan Löfven (S), Miljöpartiets språkrör Isabella Lövin, Vänsterpartiets partiledare Jonas Sjöstedt, Sverigedemokraternas partiledare Jimmie Åkesson, Kristdemokraternas partiledare Ebba Busch Thor, Liberalernas partiledare Jan Björklund, Centerpartiledaren Annie Lööf och Moderatledaren Anna Kinberg Batra innan söndagens partiledardebatt på SVT i Stockholm.
PM Stefan Löfven (Social Democrats), Green Party spokesperson Isabella Lövin, Left Party leader Jonas Sjöstedt, Sweden Democrats party leader Jimmie Åkesson, Christian Democrats party leader Ebba Busch Thor, the Liberals party leader Jan Björklund, the Center party leader Annie Lööf and the Moderates' Anna Kinberg Batra, ahead of the party leader debate on SVT on Sunday night. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer / TT

Immigration, the Swedish suburbs, and brown coal were divisive topics when eight party leaders collided on a debate show Sunday, which featured a first televised policy brawl for the new Green Party co-leader Isabella Lövin.

The first half of the TV-debate was primarily devoted to immigration and Sweden's socio-economically disadvantaged areas. More police and "zero tolerance" for aggression against public servants were repeatedly prescribed by party leaders both right and left. The four centre-right Alliance parties continued to call attention to incidents in which people in certain disadvantaged neighborhoods had thrown stones at police and EMTs.

"There's zero tollerance against throwing stones. Put forward the proposal. You have support in the Parliament," said Centre Party leader Annie Lööf, challenging the prime minister.

In her first debate the new party co-leader for the Greens, Isabella Lövin, blamed the opposition bloc Alliance parties for unrest in the Swedish suburbs. She connected agression against emergency personnel with the previous Alliance administration's policy.

"What we're seeing now is a result of large cutbacks in welfare and maintenance of the 'miljonprogram'," said Lövin referring to a major public housing project from the 1960s. The houses built then, mainly large concrete blocks of flats, are now in dire need of repair.

Lövin stuck to her guns even after being accused by the Moderate party leader Anna Kinberg Batra of participating in "party bickering." Lövin's ally Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, the Social Democrat's party leader, later took up the same line.

The debate also became heated when discussing the planned sale of state energy company Vattenfall's brown coal operations in Germany to a Czech energy consortium. Lövin was put on the spot when asked if the Green Party would be able to accept an approved sale despite a general desire among her fellow party members to act to ensure that the coal stays put in the ground and is not mined.

"We have laws and rules to maintain. We can't do something that can later be criticized from the perspective of the existing laws and rules," said Lövin.

Left Party leader Jonas Sjöstedt went to the attack.

"If you sell the coal to this seedy Czech company, then you're no 'green' government," said Sjöstedt. "You have in your hands the most important climate decision in modern times."

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