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Synthesis/Regeneration 16   (Summer 1998)


Worldwide Green

Swedish Greens: Our Basic Ideas

by Ursula Mueller, International Secretary, Green Party of Sweden


Underlying the ideology of The Green Party of Sweden (GPSw) is the awareness that life itself is threatened by modern civilization. A civilization that produces dead lakes and forests, soil erosion, air pollution, poisoned soil and ground water, global warming and social collapse is not a life-supporting system. A sustainable society, on the other hand, can be ecologically and socially sustained for generations to come. It respects life in all its forms, is frugal with the resources of the world and tries to build a society which is socially and economically just.

The Four Solidarities

As the basis for its ideology, the GPSw agrees on Four Solidarities:

The first solidarity is concerned with the protection and conservation of nature and natural resources, while the other three mainly deal with the consumption and distribution of global resources.

Solidarity with Nature and the Global Ecological System

The Solidarity with nature means respect for all life and for nature, of which we are a part. All human activity, all use of natural resources and all development must be based on that respect! This also means that economic activity must respect ecological reality. Solidarity with nature therefore implies radical changes within industry, transport, energy generation, agriculture and waste management. The Green Party of Sweden demands:

Solidarity with Future Generations

It is a well known fact that nature's resources are limited and will be needed also by future generations. Environmental deterioration, too, will limit the possibilities for future generations to attain an acceptable quality of life. The yet-unvoiced claims of future generations must therefore be taken into account in the distribution of the world's resources.

The Green Party of Sweden demands that:

Solidarity with the World's People in Need

The 20% of the world's population living in the wealthy countries uses 80% of the world's natural resources. Swedish per capita consumption of natural resources is among the highest in the world. The Swedish level of consumption and production on a global scale would soon lead to ecological collapse. The task of feeding a rapidly increasing world population is hampered by extensive soil erosion, caused by a growing need for firewood and by large scale destruction of forests, etc.

In addition, huge debts are confronting many poor countries and actually causing a net flow of resources from these to the wealthy countries. The poor countries have suffered from decreasing prices for their raw materials exports while they must pay higher prices for imported oil and machinery. These factors have contributed to a disastrous economic situation for many poor countries, incurring malnutrition, starvation and death for millions of their inhabitants.

The Green Party of Sweden demands that:

Solidarity with Indigent Citizens

Low income groups, the aged, the ill, the handicapped and people with drug and alcohol problems must get a fair share of Swedish welfare. A lot still remains to be done to achieve equality between the sexes. Great imbalances have developed between rural and urban areas, and the needs of the rural area in terms of social, cultural and industrial development have to be addressed.

The Green Party of Sweden demands that:

Democracy, Equality and Politics

In addition to the Four Solidarities, three concepts are central to the ideology of the Green Party of Sweden. One comprises grassroots democracy, self-reliance and decentralization of decisions to those primarily concerned.

Another important concept is equality between the sexes and equal opportunities for women and men. More women today need to take part in decision-making, in business and political life, while men need to be given more opportunities to take an active part at home and in child care. Our society is to a large extent "male" in its character. Thus the GPSw feels there is a need to give greater weight to values and attitudes which traditionally have been associated with women. These include care for other people, responsibility for future generations and the environment, cooperation rather than competition, a holistic attitude and respect for life.


...politics should not be regarded as a life-long profession.

A third concept central to the GPSw is that politics should not be regarded as a life-long profession. The GPSw advocates a maximum of 12 years in any political office. Moreover, party representatives should not be elected to serve in several political offices simultaneously.

Green Party Policies

YES to the World...

International cooperation is both desirable and necessary, particularly when it comes to environmental issues, human rights, cultural development, disarmament and peace. We therefore aim to strengthen the United Nations and establish an international court on environmental matters. In Europe we want to develop international cooperation within the Council of Europe and the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe).

Trade should be extended and cultural links strengthened. However, free trade must be subordinated to environmental requirements and labor conditions, so that the environment, poor people and individuals are not exploited by the wealthy for their own purposes.

The Nordic countries aim at a comprehensive cooperation, becoming ecologically sustainable societies in social harmony.

Sweden should pursue a generous policy towards refugees and make available more resources for international aid to development efforts which are environmentally and socially sustainable.


The GPSw is opposed to a Swedish membership in the EU.

Sweden has exported weapons to the former Yugoslavia, and it participates in the UN forces there. The GPSw demands a halt to all exports of weapons from Sweden.

...but NO to the European Union.

The GPSw is opposed to a Swedish membership in the European Union (EU). Sweden may not accept the convergence criteria of the EMU as a goal for Swedish economic policy and may not join the third stage of the EMU (i.e. a common central bank and a common European currency). The GPSw of Sweden works for a decrease in EU's protectionism vis--vis the rest of the world. However, trade rules should be bound to strong environmental and social protection clauses against deleterious effects of uncurbed free trade.

The GPSw will support critical and open reports about EU activities and their effect upon Swedish society. We encourage the Swedish people to take part actively in the ongoing process and we are urging a new referendum to leave the European Union, which should take place after the Intergovernmental Conference which started in 1996.

As a member of the European Union, Sweden has lost its economic and national independence. Many decisions affecting our country are made behind closed doors in Brussels.

Instead, The GPSw believes in strengthening the national right to self-determination. Sweden should retain the right to follow an independent economic policy and to maintain its freedom of alliance and neutrality. We seek to develop an ecologically sustainable agriculture and defend the right to set tougher health and environmental protection standards. The GPSw intends to protect Sweden's right to follow her own drug and alcohol policies and strengthen the general principle of every citizen's right to access to government and public authority documents.

Towards a Sustainable Society -- Encourage Peace and Stop Nuclear Power Production

Nuclear power production is one of the biggest threats to our society. Mining, concentration and waste disposal of radiant material are of great risk and cannot be handled by mankind without endangering all life on earth. In addition to this, there are tight connections between civil and military uses of nuclear power. The GPSw therefore aims to close all nuclear power plants in Sweden within the next three years.

Today, when unemployment is high, there are great possibilities of investing in the environment, since a trained and educated work force is readily available. In parliament, the GPSw will support large scale investment in the development of low impact bioenergy, renewable energy sources and solar cells.

In this way, Sweden will be able to phase out nuclear power and, to a large extent, oil consumption while at the same time creating new jobs, improving the trade balance and taking major steps towards improving the environment.

More Power to the Counties

The GPSw seeks to enhance the self-determination of the counties through the introduction of directly elected provincial parliaments. A Swedish membership of the EU does mean that our natural and cultural resources, everything from high mountain forests and bedrock to castles and small cottages, will be merchandised on the international market.

The GPSw therefore advocates a policy that local and county councils can purchase their own natural resources and cultural treasures, so that Sweden will not lose these in a future, deregulated market.

The health and medical care policies of The GPSw are based on a holistic view of man and the environment. The lifestyles of people play a decisive role in the need of medical care. It is thus important to have a preventive approach, endeavoring to attain healthier lifestyles.

The GPSw wants to invest in efficient rail transport, telecommunications networks and new urban traffic systems, while there will still be space for environmentally friendly cars.

The GPSw aims at improving railway transport, supplementary bus services, rail car systems and bicycle paths.

Equality of the Sexes

Every individual should have both the right and the possibility to be economically independent and enjoy economic security.

The road to real equality between man and woman has proved longer than anyone had foreseen. That is why we continue to demand that members of public commissions and boards be appointed according to quotas. The parents' leave of absence from work should be extended by an additional month to be used only by the father.


The GPSw will try to bring in legislation to reduce the normal working week from 40 to 35 hours...

During the coming parliamentary session, the GPSw will try to bring in legislation to reduce the normal working week from 40 to 35 hours, with a further reduction to 30 hours per week to be enacted in a few years' time.

We demand that prostitution be made illegal for clients. Punishment for sexual offenses (particularly those against children) should be tougher, new ways of dealing with those committing sexual crimes should be introduced and the victims of crimes should be given the support they need.

Allergy is Politics

Allergy is the most widespread disability of our time. One third of all Swedes suffer from some form of allergy. Our entire living environment gives rise to allergies.

The GPSw demands an immediate clamp-down on chemicals and building materials causing these problems, that information on contents be improved and that zones around day care centers and schools be free of exhaust fumes.

Mercury-based amalgam in dental fillings should be abolished for health reasons. Those who have been affected by allergies or poisoning from this material should receive public assistance.

The GPSw will seek to enact stricter standards for the work environment, for example regarding micro-airwaves from mobile telecommunication entities and computer screens or contact with chemicals and other non-natural substances.

New Jobs through "Tax Reform"

The GPSw advocates lower taxes on labor and increased taxes on energy and non-renewable resources. This tax reform will make it profitable for businesses to do away with environmental degradation and energy waste rather than to rationalize jobs. At the same time, the demand for more efficient energy and environmental technology will increase.

The GPSw estimates that 300,000 new jobs will originate through this tax reform. Recycling and reuse will become more profitable for industries, local production will be encouraged and local communities will be given a better chance to develop. Households will find repairs and maintenance more advantageous. County and local councils will be better able to finance health and social care because labor costs will be lower. The GPSw favors abolishing the value added tax (VAT) on basic food stuffs and environmentally labeled products. The party pursues a policy of redistribution of wealth, based on solidarity and taxation according to the ability to pay.

Conclusion

The GPSw will stop the growing gap between incomes and the increasing inequality on the employment market between sexes, ethnic groups and other parts of our society. We would like to see a more active policy of distribution of capital and working power. This includes as well the social security system. Members of our society with already low incomes should not be even more exposed to pressure. Instead, we will improve medicare, welfare and unemployment benefits . This will be financed by a proportional lowering of government benefits for high income groups.

Progressive economics should always be adjusted to the environmental conditions as well as the needs of the society. Our wellness and economic independence are a direct result of the synergetics of human creative power and the disposal of natural resources. Therefore, progressive green economics have to consider both the creative potential of each individual and the constraints of our environment. Our society should perceive the dynamics of our local and global natural environment not as a limitation of human activities, but as a framework for new ideas and opportunities to put an ecologically and socially sustainable society into reality. In our view, a "good" society is based on social, gender and racial equality, national as well as international solidarity and a powerful social policy.


As a member of the European Union, Sweden has lost its economic and national independence.

Contact the Green Party of Sweden at Box 16069, Drottninggatan 25 S-103 22 Stockholm, Sweden tel + 46-8-20 15 77 fax+46-8-15 20 77 e-mail: ursula@mp.se




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