English Debate Club

This week's topic:

The upcoming Swedish elections.

The elections

Every fourth year on the second Sunday of September, elections are held in Sweden. There will be general elections (riksdagsval), local elections (kommunalval) and regional elections (landstingsval, mainly concerns hospitals and other health services ). '

Twelve local referendums at the commune level will also be held this time, on topics such as if a public swimming pool or a bridge should be built.

This site has info on the elections in Swedish and 32 other languages, including English.

The party groupings

Two groups of parties stand against each other, with the Sweden Democrats being unaffiliated and may very well end up holding the balance of power in parliament.

The leftish block consists of the Social Democrats (Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti), The Green Party (Miljöpartiet) and the Left Party (Vänsterpartiet).

The rightish block is currently in government and calls itself Alliansen. It consists of the The Moderates (Moderaterna), The Liberal Party (Folkpartiet Liberalerna), The Center Party (Centerpartiet) and The Christ Democratic party (Kristdemokraterna).

The Social Democratic Party and the Left Party
These parties were one and the same until a split in 1917 where communists left and formed their own party (and also had further splits over the years). The biggest of the communist parties was VPK, which always supported the social democrats in parliament (and themselves eventually adopting a democratic reformist agenda) but were never invited into government. VPK changed its name to Vänsterpartiet after the fall of the Berlin wall, dropping the "K" for "Kommunist". The Social Democrats ruled Sweden for more than half a century.

The Green Party came about in the 1980s similar to other Green parties in Europe.

The Moderates has its roots in a conservative party but has moved closer to the Social Democrats in recent years (although the entire political scene in Sweden has moved a bit to the right).

The Liberal party was formed in the 1930s as a fusion of city liberals and liberal minded Christians (Mission Church).

The Center Party has its roots among farmers, but is today also an urban party. Due to its shrewd management, and later sell-off of a media empire they are the richest party by far.

The Christ Democratic party was formed in the 1960s by protestant churches outside of the Swedish Church (e.g. Pentecostals). They try to tout family values more that the other parties in its alliance. They are however in polls trailing close to the 4% cut-off for parliamentary representation in the national parliament.

Key issues

To the best of my knowledge these are the positions in some key areas.

Generally speaking the leftish bloc favours, compared to the present government: Higher taxes, more legislation concerning quotas for women, less private companies in the school and health services, and less wage competition from foreign workers entering Sweden.

Here are some individual issues:

Get out of the EU - The Left Party and the Sweden Democrats

Pro EU - The Moderates, the Liberal party

Sweden into NATO - The Liberal party

Anti NATO - The Left Party

Pro nuclear power - The Liberal Party (the Moderates)

Anti nuclear power - The Green party

Nuclear power should be phased out in due time- All other parties

Pro labour immigration - all parties in Alliansen (the rightish bloc), and the Green party

Pro refugee immigration - All parties except the Sweden Democrats, with the Moderates taking the lead

Anti immigration - The Sweden Democrats

Free immigration (eventually) - The Liberal Party, The Green Party

A Swedish government

The only true minister in a government is the Prime Minister. The other "ministers" are appointed by the Prime Minister.

Sweden is the only country besides Finland where government ministers are prohibited to micro manage (or even manage) the public servants. Ministers are only allowed to give guidelines and allocate funds. The crime of a minister interfering with the work of a public servant is called ministerstyre (Ministerial rule - Wikipedia).

This is incidentally why the Swedish government cannot give any guarantees to Julian Assange about whether he would be extradited, if he were brought to Sweden. Giving such as guarantee would amount to ministerstyre and is unconstitutional.

Parties with identity politics (Wikipedia)

Sweden Democrats. The Sweden Democrats are projected to get over 10% of the vote. Their main issues are to curb immigration and to strengthen the welfare state. The party has its roots in xenophobic movements, although the current party programme is careful not to reflect outright xenophobia.

Feminist Initiative - A party whose aim is to strengthen the status and quality of life of women, through political means such as transferring money from men to women, and quotas favoring women and minorities in the labour market. The party stands  at about 3% in the polls and hence has a real chance of breaking through the 4% threshold.

Directions to the place

Inside the café:

Go into the far (deepest) corner in the café. Go right into the wall there. Not kidding, go right into the wall. On your left there is then a staircase leading down. Some people are still unable to find the staircase, if you are one of them, just ask the staff to show you where the basement is. We are downstairs.

By metro + bus:

Take a bus from Slussen. 3 (towards Södersjukhuset) or 76 (towards Norra Hammarbyhamnen), get off at the second stop after Slussen (Åsögatan), turn right and walk 1 minute down Bondegatan. You'll see the café in front of you, at the end of the block.

By metro + walking:

Closest Metro station is "Medborgarplatsen", and the address of the café is Nytorgsgatan 38. If you look near the top of this page you will see this address, and if you click the name of the Café, a map should appear.

On that map, locate the big street "Folkungagatan" north of the Café, and trace it to the west until you see a "T" in a circle. That is the metro station "Medborgarplatsen".

From the main railway station:

For if you arrive with a suburban train (pendeltåg) or a long distance train. Grab bus 59 from outside of World trade center at the top level of the station (Klarabergsviadukten) and get off the bus at the Bondegatan stop.

The English Debate Club:

Challenge and improve your English skills with lively discussions and debates!  Sometimes we stick to debate format, other times it evolves into a general discussion.

Participants are welcome to prepare beforehand or wing it - but everyone will be encouraged to contribute to the discussion.

Focus will be on crafting arguments in English, phrasing for emphasis and expanding vocabulary at an advanced level.  Native English speakers who would like to brush up on their debating skills very welcome also!

It's okay to interject and to reply directly as long as it does not get out of hand (in which case a speaker's list will be more strictly enforced). People who have not spoken much get precedence.

If you just like to sit and listen that is fine too. For the few who really like to talk at length: You may be interrupted and asked for clarification, or it may be pointed out that you're repeating yourself.

First hour is usually a bit more free form, looking at the subject from different angles, and then we may home in on specifics more during the second hour

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  • Mega A.

    it was great though it's quite strange how we moved the topic :)) ,,lovely people ,great atmosphere ..hope seeing all of you next week :)

    1 · September 2

  • Cayetana

    We should include in this introduction the Feministiskt Initiativ (http://feministisktinitiativ.se/sprak/english/) which has come out recently to the political board. Though it's not in any block... yet.

    September 2

    • Jorgen

      It is doubtful if they will reach the 4% threshold that is needed to get into parliament. I would say that they would choose the leftish block should they get in.

      1 · September 2

    • Jorgen

      I included them!

      September 2

  • Jorgen

    Topic set: The upcoming Swedish elections.

    2 · August 27

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Rafaël

We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

Rafaël, started French Conversation Group

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