Optimistic Finance Minister Criticized

Sweden's centre-right coalition government presented its' 2010 budget on Monday with job creation and lifting Sweden out of the recession the key themes ahead of next year's general election.

Presenting the bill to parliament, Finance Minister Anders Borg said that the unemployment rate would exceed 11 percent in the coming two years. Together with a five-percent shrinking of the country’s gross economic product this meant a crisis of historic proportions for Sweden.

‘By promoting jobs and supporting the unemployed we want to ensure a speedier recovery. Let us hope we will see better times,’ Borg said. The government has set aside 4.6 billion dollars for special measures to limit damages in the aftermath of the crisis.

Speakers for the opposition criticized the budget proposal. Former deputy finance minister Thomas Östros said on behalf of the Social Democrats that the Conservative government had wasted a substantial budget surplus on useless tax reductions. ‘Your policy does not create jobs, it splits the nation,’ Östros said.

With just one year to go before the next election, and with the recession still causing lay-offs, the budget is a mix of lower taxes and higher spending on public services. But will it be enough to win the next election for the centre right, or is it too little too late?

Kris Boswell spoke to two political editors from the Swedish press, Bengt Urban Fransson from the left-leaning Piteå Tidningen in the north of the country, and Johan Rudström from the liberal Uppsala Nya Tidning just north of Stockholm.