Center leader criticises govt's "halfway" policies

In her speech at the Almedalen week of intense politics on the island of Gotland, Center Party leader Annie Lööf indirectly criticised her own government on employment issues.

Saturday was Center Party day at Almedalen. With the week winding up and journalists and others beginning to return home, Lööf, who is also Minister for Enterprise, gave her speech in the middle of the day.

Remarking that “we need a labor policy that doesn't go halfway, where those looking for work are actually offered real jobs” she called for lower payroll taxes, changes in the sickness benefit system that would shift more costs from employers to the public purse, less regulation, and an improved apprentice system.

Lööf also called for restrictions on the use of dangerous chemicals.

Repeating what she had written in the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet earlier Saturday, the Center leader presented a package including increased taxation for the use of chemicals, a ban on the most dangerous, and new technologies to filter pharmaceutical residues at water treatment plants.

In her op-ed piece, Lööf said Sweden shouldn’t wait for the EU, but should be first in banning dangerous chemicals such as Bisphenol A and Parabens. New technologies for filtering drug residues from water, she said, could also offer export opportunities for Sweden.

As in the other speeches by the leaders of the center-right government, Lööf also criticised the opposition for not being clearer about the composition of a ruling coalition should they win next year’s elections.

The three red-green opposition parties have led the center-right government coalition in the polls for months, and Lööf’s own Center Party has several times been under the threshold for staying in parliament.

Lööf also joined all of the other parties in criticising the leader of the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, Jimmie Åkesson, for his opposition to healthcare for undocumented migrants. “What the Sweden Democrats stand for,” she said “is nothing more than the Swedish championship in egoism”.