It’s time for the second edition in the new blog series about the Swedish political parties in Riksdagen. Next out is Folkpartiet, who are also a part of the governing coalition – together with Moderaterna, Centerpartiet and Kristdemokraterna.
- Partiledare: Jan Björklund
Jan Björklund, party leader
- Partisekreterare: Nina Larsson
Nina Larsson, party secretary
- Current political orientation: social liberalism.
Folkpartiet is currently the fourth largest party in Riksdagen. They were founded in 1902 under a different name, but has since 1934 been called Folkpartiet. Initially in the 1920’s, they were actually allied with Socialdemokraterna, but are now part of their opposition. The party have been a part of the governing ‘Alliance‘ since 2004. In the UK, their equivalent party is Liberal Democrats.
The political orientation of the party is liberalism, but it has been changing throughout the years. Today, Folkpartiet are more clearly right-wing, with a strong focus on foreign aid and women’s equality. The party advocates liberal feminism, which means the equality between men and women through political and legal reforms. Issues important to liberal feminists, and thus also to Folkpartiet, include reproductive rights and abortion access, sexual harassment, voting, education, fair compensation for work, affordable childcare, affordable health care, and bringing to light the frequency of sexual and domestic violence against women.
Internationally, they have supported decolonisation and the overthrowing of communist dictatorships. The party is pro-European, and also supports the state of Israel. Since 2002 the party has been accused of trying to attract new voters by adopting populist right-wing rhetoric, although the party proposes to open Sweden’s doors to economic migrants and to additional asylum seekers. The party leader at that time, Lars Leijonborg, proposed a language test for immigrants who applied for Swedish citizenship – which was widely criticised. According to their current policy on immigration, the party support more open immigration combined with measures to help new arrivals to integrate into Swedish society.
In recent years, and especially under the leadership of Jan Björklund, the party has moved towards conservative liberalism in its social attitudes, taking tougher stands on areas such as crime and punishment, law and order, school and discipline as well as strengthening its abolitionist policies on drugs. Folkpartiet’s support for the controversial 2008 FRA-surveillance law in particular has upset its youth organisation.
Folkpartiet have their strongest support in the regions around Stockholm and Göteborg, among middle class voters: mainly city/urban dwellers, academics and younger people. The party is renowned for struggling to keep their voters, which has led political theorists to refer to them as “Hallsberg – the passenger lounge for vote switchers”. Hallsberg is a small town in central Sweden (just south of Örebro) which is mainly known for its railway junction, where people wait to change trains.
According to a survey in the run-up to the previous election in 2010, voters of Folkpartiet ranked the following issues as the most important:
- Swedish economy
- Household economy
- Health care
Hallsberg railway junction
Next time: Centerpartiet