Foreign Policy in Election Campaign
As the Swedish campaign rolls into its last hours before Sunday’s elections, foreign policy has made a rare appearance.
But this wasn’t in the main debates between political party leaders.
Instead it was Swedish Foreign Minister Jan Eliasson who made a special appearance.
Holding a copy of the ”International Herald Tribune” before an audience at the Stockholm central train station, the minister quoted an interview with Fredrik Reinfeldt, leader of the Moderate Conservative party. If the opposition center-right alliance wins the election, Reinfeldt would be Sweden’s next prime minister.
In the interview, Reinfeldt calls the minority Social Democratic government anti-American and anti-Israeli. He says that a future conservative-led government would help restore the balance.
The accusation is a bit surprising as Prime Minister Göran Persson has been criticised by other Social Democrats for taking an overly pro-Israeli stance.
The Conservative Moderates have responded by saying the ”International Herald Tribune” article was filled with misquotes.
Eliasson also blasted the Conservative Moderates for wanting to cut development assistance. They have responded with a reminder that the party has backed down from that position and accepts that of the other center-right alliance parties who want to keep aid at the present level.
The foreign minister also criticised another alliance member – the Center Party – for wanting neutral Sweden to join NATO. The alliance says this issue has been set aside for the time being.
Alliance attacks on foreign policy have now been aimed at the government’s Green and Left party allies, claiming these support parties are against Swedish membership in the European Union and don’t support the presence of NATO or UN troops in Iraq or Afghanistan.