Prime Minister Löfven’s Statement of Government Policy
After the parliamentary elections in September, Sweden had a shift in government on October 3rd. The result marks the end of an eight-year period of pro-market policy tax cuts under former Prime Minister Reinfeldt. Many Swedes worried that his tax cuts have undermined the country’s famed welfare system. In addition to raising taxes for the benefit of welfare, the new socialist government seems to have several human rights issues on its agenda. In the Statement of Government Policy – which is the Prime Minister’s annual declaration on what goals the government will have during the coming year, submitted in the opening of the parliamentary session – the following relevant objectives were stated:
- Prime Minister Löfven declared his new government to be a feminist government. Furthermore it was declared that repressive gender-roles and structures will be defeated, and that women and men will be given the same power to shape society and their lives. The politics of equality will be given more weight in government offices and departments, and authorities will be given clearer directives in this matter. The budget proposition will moreover be “gender-budgeted”. In addition to this, Löfven mentioned that the “principle of consent” is fundamental to solving more sex crimes, and thus the legislation concerning rape needs to be reviewed. Other gender-equality goals mentioned were the reduction of the wage gap between women and men; and also that if the proportion of women on the boards of listed companies is less than 40 percent in 2016, a bill on quotas will be presented.
- Another much awaited declaration was that Sweden shall be “one of the best countries to grow up in” and hence the government will begin the work of incorporating the U.N. Convention for the Rights of the Child.
- On racial equality, the government stated that racism and prejudices are unacceptable in a democratic society. It was mentioned that during the election year, the people of Sweden has risen against racism, and for human dignity, and that antisemitism, antiziganism, islamophobia and afrophobia shall not take place in Sweden. Löfven pointed out that Sweden shall secure the rights of the national minorities, and that a national knowledge – and resource – centre for research on racism shall be established.
- As regards migration, Löfven declared that Sweden shall continue its humane asylum politics and continue giving sanctuary for those fleeing persecution and oppression. It was furthermore asserted that all Sweden’s municipalities shall take solitary responsibility as to refugee-reception. The reception will additionally be strengthened with further resources. Additionally, Sweden shall seek to promote legal ways of seeking asylum within the European Union and for the increase of refugee quotas in other countries.
- Lastly, the Prime Minister declared that human rights, public international law, international disarment and the efforts against terrorism shall be the cornerstones of Swedish foreign policy. And that, therefore, the government wants to see a strong and reformed U.N., where Swedish candidacy to the U.N. Security Council will be actively promoted.