Op-ed: The Left Party and the Future of Foreign Policy

As part of The Perspective op-ed series on all Swedish parliamentary parties, this text is a contribution by the Left Party’s Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Håkan Svenneling, and does not necessarily reflect the views of UPF Lund and The Perspective.

In these troubling times I believe a central question is: will democratic ideas beat authoritarian ideas in the coming years, or will this be the decade of the alpha-male? Looking back at the 2010s a lot of conservative, reactionary, right-wing politicians have been elected on every continent around the world. We see such alpha-males leading dictatorships, but recently more and more of them have taken power through elections in democratic countries. At the current moment and as a response to the coronavirus they have turned to repressive measures against their own people.

As a democratic country Sweden has an obligation to stand up for democracy, human rights and international law, even in troubling times. Our foreign policy needs to be outspoken and clear. This includes not letting the EU to hold us back from expressing our values.

The Left Party struggles to create a more equal and fairer society. To achieve this, we need to tackle the staggeringly unequal distribution of wealth globally. Today twenty-two men own more than all the women in Africa, according to Oxfam. It is the capitalist system which makes the rich grow richer by the minute, while the almost eight hundred million people can hardly put food on their tables.

In response to the coronavirus, but also to reach the sustainable goals of Agenda 2030 (Sustainable Development Goals, SDG) Sweden needs to advocate for more aid to the developing world. Our goal to give one percent of GNI should not be seen as a roof, rather as a floor. An increase in aid enables us to help the least developed countries to stop hunger and promote humanitarian needs, so that they can reach the SDG.

Ten years from now the world needs to be more peaceful. Today Sweden is the largest arms exporter per capita in the world. This is part of a pattern where the West has poured even more weapons into the Middle East and other conflict-ridden regions, fuelling death and destruction. We need to immediately halt all arms export to dictatorships, as well as to countries that are currently involved in conflicts.

The effects of climate change can already be felt, but in the coming ten years it will affect us more and more. All politicians have an obligation to cooperate to stop this development, but also to reduce the negative effects, such as an increase in conflicts. All humans need to cooperate to stop climate change. If we don’t, it will have a huge impact not only on the environment but on our ability to build a peaceful and just world overall.


Håkan Svenneling, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

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