Mona Sahlin giving one of this year's May Day speeches.
Politics

May Day Speeches Promise to Help Pensioners, Blast Center-Right Coalition

The red flags of the political parties on the left and the labor unions and the black flags of the anarchists have been waving in May Day parades here in Stockholm and all around the country - with demonstrators singing the ”Internationalen” and other songs in solidarity with workers all around the globe.

In her May Day speeches, opposition Social Democratic Party leader Mona Sahlin has promised to ease taxes for the nation’s pensioners - if her party and its allies the Greens and the Left Party can oust the present center-right government coalition.

Saying that pensioners have the hardest time because of the government’s financial policies favoring the upper classes, Sahlin promises to give the pensioners the same tax deductions now benefiting wage earners. This is to be financed with higher taxes for the wealthy.

Sahlin added that if she becomes the next prime minister of a red-green coalition, she would put more emphasis on creating badly-needed jobs instead of lowering taxes as the present government has.

The party leader is desperately fighting for more voter support - after having lost two thirds of the high voter confidence she had as the party’s first woman chairperson when she took over two years ago when the Social Democrats lost the last election.

In another critically important May Day speech, Wanja Lundby-Wedin, the head of the giant blue collar labor union confederation has also tried to win back lost support.

She blasted the center-right government for Sweden’s rising unemployment and the reduced benefits for those on sick leave and those without jobs.

But in her Stockholm speech, the labor union leader was interrupted by calls for her resignation and had to appeal for respect for those wanting to listen.

She has been highly criticized or sitting on the board of a big pension insurance company, granting million-dollar pension benefits to top bosses despite the confederation’s condemnation of such large bonuses when pensions are being cut and more people losing their jobs.

Critics blame her for remaining in her job despite demands for her resignation - threatening the closely allied Social Democrats’ hopes of winning the elections only 16 months away.

In his speech, the leader of the Swedish Left Party, Lars Ohly, sharply attacked the minister of education for what he called the lowering of standards in the nation’s schools as detrimental to working-class students and has called the minister a ”hooligan” in education.

He also blasted the newly-boosted salaries for European parliamentarians - saying that it’s not acceptable that they earn the same as 10 orderlies in a Swedish hospital.

Many of the politicians from the Social Democrats and the Left Party have used the mass media attention to call for the support of their candidates for the European parliamentary elections coming up next month – an election largely ignored by many Swedish voters.

Anarchists demonstrators have been holding placards and chanting demands for a new government, the end of what they call rampant capitalism destroying the global environment and a stop for all discrimination of immigrants and minorities.

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