It was Kinberg Batra’s first Almedalen speech, as she took over as party leader from outgoing prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt after the center-right coalition lost September’s elections.
She began by referring to the Greek crisis, asking about the coming referendum, “Is it wise to turn your back on your neighbors? I don’t think so.”
Linking to her party’s economic policies, she went on “We Moderates will never abandon our responsibility that Sweden will be a country you can trust, where state finances are concerned.”
Moving to defence policies she said “it is a question of when, not if, of Sweden joining NATO”.
But she used most of her speech to promote what she called the “first job deduction”. Referring to her own first job, Kinberg Batra said the deduction would apply to help young people find their first jobs.
“I can never accept that those confronted with exclusion have to accept it,” she said. “Sweden should be one country, not parallel societies. Here in Sweden we all need each other.”
Swedish Radio’s commentator Fredrik Furtenbach has described it basically as an extension of the earlier party policy, the “job deduction” introduced by the former center-right government, a tax deduction for those with employment, but often criticized for excluding pensioners and those with sickness or unemployment benefits.
The key phrase Kinberg Batra used through-out her speech, fighting exclusion, was exactly that used to motivate the previous policy.
To reduce exclusion, she named education, and called for an expansion of adult education, and for more apprentice jobs for young people.
Seemingly rejecting the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, who some members of her party would like to work with, she commented “where you come from should not affect whether you get a job here.”
Kinberg Batra also called for compulsory schooling here for immigrants who lack an education from their home countries, and higher benefits for immigrants who find jobs quickly.