Liberals kick off convention ahead of elections

2:31 min

Sweden's Liberal Party kicked off its convention Thursday morning, with its leader Jan Björklund tackling hot-button issues of education, immigration and the economy.

Swedish Radio News reports that Björklund, who is also Sweden's Education Minister, defended his party's push for free schools and allowing students to choose where they study.

"We are for choice. We are for free schools! We are for diversity!" he told the party faithful at the opening of the four-day-long convention.

Björklund also suggested adding a third paternity month to Sweden's paid parental leave, lowering the starting salaries for young people to encourage hiring and protecting the rights of refugees.

"Europe and Sweden's largest challenge are the forces that want to deny people a safe haven. The Sweden Democrats oppose refugees. We Liberals oppose xenophobia," he said.

The party is also in need of a boost in the polls. It has been posting results below 7 percent in the lead up to next year's national elections. It is the second largest party of the ruling center-right collation and is fairing much better than the alliance's Center Party and Christian Democrats.

"If you walk into a room where two people are on a ventilator, and a third person is leaning against a wall with a broken arm, you don't worry so much about that person," political scientist from Lund University Michael Sundström told Swedish Radio. "That's about where the Liberal Party is."