Green co-leader Åsa Romson opening the conference, Photo Bertil Ericson/Scanpix

Education, Climate on Green agenda

Friday sees Sweden’s Green party gathering for its conference in the northern city of Umeå, and while the Greens may hold the key to which bloc forms Sweden’s next government, they are not pleased with many current policies.

The Greens fought, and lost, the last election as part of the Red-Green bloc. But the four center-right parties that held on to power then didn’t win a majority of seats in parliament. Since neither side wants to rely on the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, recent months have seen the government trying to lure the Greens into switching sides.

They have done this on some issues, with the Greens reaching a compromise last year with the government on asylum policies. But that seems to be unravelling, as earlier this month Gustav Fridolin, one of the party’s co-leaders, sharply criticised the government for failing to honor the agreement.

And opening the conference, in the northern city of Umeå, his co-leader Åsa Romson attacked the government for its climate policies, saying it is playing with environmental statistics the way the Greeks did with economic figures.

Party chair Anders Wallner also says the government isn’t keeping its promises. He tells us that Swedish carbon emissions increased in 2010, which he says feels very strange after the years of debate and the high level of awareness among the Swedish people.

The Greens are starting a campaign on the climate issue aimed at personal conversations with a quarter of a million Swedes over the next couple of years. The party also wants to improve rail traffic in this country and to make housing here more energy-effective.

A major issue at the Green conference in the northern city of Umeå is education. The party was behind the program to provide public funding for private schools. But the Greens have been disappointed that instead of a growth in alternative approaches to education, what’s emerged are a plethora of profit-making schools. Co-leader Gustav Fridolin says they may have been naïve in the past, and party chair Anders Wallner says the conference may see a change in policy.

He says the party is positive about different participants behind schools, but the aim is to deliver quality education and not profits to stockholders.

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