(Reuters) - Sweden holds a parliamentary election on Sunday dominated by immigration and its effects on the welfare system.
The Social Democrats, who lead a minority coalition government, are campaigning on a promise to boost welfare spending if elected for a four-year term.
The Alliance, which groups four centre-right parties, promises income tax cuts and more spending on welfare.
The far-right Sweden Democrats are campaigning on a platform of law and order and tighter policies on immigration.
The Social Democrats and the centre-right Moderates, the biggest party in the Alliance, have vowed to get tough on crime and keep in place temporary immigration restrictions introduced in 2015.
A coalition of the Social Democrats and Greens, backed by the Left Party, is polling at around 40 percent. The polls put the Alliance, grouping the Moderates, the Christian Democrats, the Centre Party and the Liberals, on around 38 percent. The Sweden Democrats have just under 20 percent.
Below are their policies on the main issues.
- Boost spending by more than 70 billion Swedish crowns ($7.70 billion) in the next four years to strengthen the welfare system.
- Give local authorities an extra 20 billion crowns over four years.
- Raise pensions and reduce income taxes for retirees, costing the state around 14.6 billion crowns over four years.
- Give schools an extra 7.3 billion crowns and raise military spending by 7 billion crowns over four years.
- Provide an additional 4.4 billion crowns for the police over the same period.
- Impose a tax on banks and increase taxes on capital to bring in 5.0 billion crowns a year.
- Make changes to rules on tax deductions that companies can make and increase taxes on private healthcare insurance and on new, heavily polluting cars to bring in an additional 5 billion crowns annually.
- Total spending in the government budget was 941 billion crowns in 2017.
- Increase spending during over four years by around 37 billion crowns and cut taxes by 50 billion crowns.
- Give an extra 20 billion crowns to local authorities over the same period but with certain conditions.
- Provide the police with an extra 6.5 billion crowns, and increase defence spending by 10.5 billion crowns during the term.
- Make income tax cuts - through higher in-work credits and lower taxes on pensions - totalling 43 billion crowns over four years.
- Make other tax cuts, including reducing fuel taxes and making minor changes to company taxes, bringing the total to around 50 billion crowns over four years.
- Make tax increases, including of VAT on food and restaurant meals, to bring in around 13 billion crowns over four years.
- Cut spending, for example to employment schemes, to save 20 billion crowns over the next four years. Another 20 billion crowns to come mainly from reducing building subsidies.
- Reduce income taxes by 25 billion crowns per year.
- Cut payroll taxes for employers costing around 45 billion crowns over four years.
- Raise military spending to 2.5 percent of GDP.
- Increase spending on healthcare and the elderly by 30 billion crowns over four years.
- Raise state pensions, increase unemployment benefits.
- Cut costs for immigration and integration, with the aim of saving 60 billion crowns over four years.
- Reform job schemes and state labour board to save 85 billion crowns over four years.
- Reduce mortgage tax relief, saving 12 billion crowns over the same period.
- Spending measures over four years to total 428 billion crowns versus savings of 344 billion, according to the party’s election manifesto.
IMMIGRATION AND ASYLUM:
- After a U-turn on immigration in 2015, the Social Democrat-led government introduced tight restrictions. The Social Democrats have said these will remain in place until there are Europe-wide rules, including on asylum quotas.
- The Moderates support extending the current asylum regulations.
- They want tougher rules for acquiring citizenship.
- The Sweden Democrats say recent restrictions do not go far enough.
- They say Sweden should only take asylum seekers who come from its neighbours -- Denmark, Norway and Finland -- and call for the introduction of tougher requirements for citizenship, including a language and culture test.
- They also want to limit labour migration and hold a referendum on Sweden’s EU membership.
CENTRE, LIBERAL PARTIES,
Both parties want a more liberal immigration policy than their partners in the Alliance, particularly in relation to reuniting refugee children with their families. Both also want a common EU asylum policy.
GREENS, LEFT PARTY (ALLIED TO SOCIAL DEMOCRATS)
- The two parties want to return to a more generous immigration policy. The Greens were close to quitting the coalition over tighter rules introduced in 2015.
Opinion poll graphic: tmsnrt.rs/2LmSZFD
Reporting by Stockholm Newsroom; editing by Niklas Pollard and Timothy Heritage
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