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    Molehills for Mountains: Swedish Liberals Blow Up Military Budget

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    Based on growing threats, Sweden's Liberal Party has proposed in its shadow budget for the next five years to increase the government's military expenditure by 10 billion krona (1.2 billion dollars).

    According to party leader Jan Björklund, growing threats to Sweden are the main reason behind the boost.

    "We're very concerned about developments in Russia, Putin's aggressive policy, the ongoing military build-up and Russia's offensive and aggressive behavior in the Baltic region, also against our country. This we have to parry,and that means we need to strengthen the defense," Björklund told Swedish Radio.

    According to Björklund, the defensive effort by the current red-green alliance government (comprised of the Social Democrats and the Green) is severely underfunded and "too hollow."

    "We believe ours is a good proposal, and unlike the government, we believe we also have the funding," Jan Björklund defended his stance.

    "It pays to work" is the motto of the Liberals' spring draft budget, which was presented at a press conference yesterday. A number of their proposals were already known: abolishing the austerity tax and raising the bottom end of the income tax cutoff. In order to finance the proposed defense measures, the Liberals have a long list of proposed budget cuts, among them construction subsidies, said Jan Björklund.

    Currently, Sweden's yearly military budget is 41 billion krona (roughly 5 billion dollars), which amounts to 1.15 percent of the country's GDP. In 2014, a significant military budget increase was pushed through by the Defense Ministry on account of Russia's "aggression" in Ukraine, the takeover of the Crimean peninsula, as well as a series of "confirmed" submarine violations in Sweden's territorial waters. The Liberals' proposal, however, goes far beyond the red-green coalition government's strategy.

    Historically positioned in the middle of the Swedish political landscape, the Liberals (formerly known as the People's Party) have been willing to cooperate with both left and right, but have since the mid-2000s developed a conservative inclination, pushing Sweden towards NATO and the Eurozone. The Liberals were part of the previous conservative government under Fredrik Reinfeldt. In the 2014 elections, the party received just 5.4 percent of the vote and joined the opposition.

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    defense budget, Sveriges Radio, Eurozone, NATO, Scandinavia, Sweden
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