Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Swedish Debate Centers on Dads

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Swedish Debate Centers on Dads

Article excerpt

The longest debate at this year's Swedish Liberal Party congress was not about the country's economic crisis or its role in Europe, but whether fathers should have to take paid time off work when their children are born.

The Liberals, a small but pivotal partner in Prime Minister Carl Bildt's government, voted last week by 84 to 70 to make fathers take at least one of the 12 months' parental leave paid for by the state, in the interests of sexual equality.

For every child born to Swedish parents, married or unmarried, each parent is entitled to 12 months leave, paid for by the state. At present, it is usually the mother who takes the time off.

Party leader Bengt Westerberg admitted after the three-hour debate that he would have difficulty persuading the other governing parties to make the "father's month" compulsory.

Westerberg backed the government's tough economic line by demanding defense cuts and higher individual insurance contributions to combat a ballooning budget deficit. …

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