New 'feminist' government with a Green tinge in Sweden

Stockholm (AFP) - Sweden's new Social Democrat prime minister Stefan Loefven unveiled what he called a "feminist" government including Green Party ministers for the first time in the Nordic country.

"The Swedish people voted for a change of government and a new political direction. A new government comprised of the Social Democrats and the Green Party is ready to take up the task," Loefven said in his inaugural speech to parliament.

"Sweden's new government is a feminist government," he said.

Half his cabinet is female, including Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson and Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem, a former EU commissioner.

Green Party leaders Aasa Romson and Gustav Fridolin were appointed ministers for the environment and education, respectively, and the party will also control Sweden's overseas aid agency Sida and the consumer affairs ministry.

He repeated election pledges to create jobs, recruit more teachers and increase the compulsory school age from 16 to 18.

"Sweden is in a serious situation -- unemployment has become entrenched at high levels, school results have collapsed and the welfare system has major shortcomings," he said.

The Greens failed to force through an election promise to shut nuclear power plants but Loefven said the industry will be forced to "bear a larger share of the costs to society".

He also vowed to criminalise Swedes that travel abroad for sex tourism, and to toughen the country's rape laws.

Loefven's coalition won just under 39 percent of the vote in last month's election and will rely on outside support from the Left Party and smaller conservative parties to pass legislation.

The new prime minister also promised to curb profits in publicly-funded health and education companies.

"The hunt for profits will be stopped," he said.

The new government has scrapped the post of European Affairs minister, but Loefven said Sweden wanted a greater role for the EU in peacekeeping, while confirming the country will remain out of NATO.

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