Workers’ alternative needed against new right-wing government
Against the background of an electoral victory for the right-wing four-party Alliance in Sweden’s parliamentary elections on Sunday 17 September, important local gains were made by Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden).
From five council seats in the 2002 elections (all three levels of government: Parliament, regional and local councils take place on the same day) it seems RS has increased to eight seats. In addition to successfully defending its 3 seats in Umeå and increasing from 2 to 3 in Luleå in northern Sweden, RS gained two new seats in Haninge, a southern subhurb of Stockholm, the capital.
The results show that where a clear, fighting socialist programme is presented, as opposed to the pro-Big Business, neo-liberal record of the outgoing social democratic government and its two support parties, the Left Party and Greens, a working class alternative can make gains. RS fought on a programme of opposing all cuts in services and privatisations, for a revolt from the low-paid, especially women and public sector workers, and for a major expansion of employment in schools, childcare and other council services. It’s campaign also highlighted the threat from the extreme right Sweden Democrats (SD) with anti-racist demonstrations organised in all three cities where RS was fighting for council seats.
The vote for the RS list in Haninge increased almost five-fold from the last election to around 1240 votes (provisional result, Sunday night). This means that Mattias Bernhardsson and Lina Thörnblom have been elected to the town council. In Luleå the vote for RS rose by 25 percent from the last election and looks likely to result in an increase from two to three seats in the city council. In Umeå RS looks set to defend the three seats it won in 2002 (an increase from two in 1998).
Significantly in one of two constituencies of Haninge, RS got more votes than the racist Sweden Democrats whose vote declined, despite the fact that the racists were first elected into Haninge council in 1998 -one of their earliest breakthroughs at the local government level. SD unfortuntaley made big gains in local governments across the country. This demonstrates that a clear socialist alternative and working class unity in struggle is the only effective means to defeat the racist poison of parties like SD as well as against the new right- wing government.
A fuller report of the Swedish elections and CWI results will be carried later.