Sweden’s centre-right leader emerges as election loser and winner

Sweden’s left-wing Social Democrats won more seats than any other party in this week’s election, but Magdalena Andersson, its popular leader, was forced to submit her resignation as prime minister on Thursday.

Instead, Ulf Kristersson of the Center-right party will have the first chance to form a new government – the first right-wing government in eight years in the Nordic country – on the basis of support for the far-right Swedish party.

Kristersson, who faces a tray that includes not only an application for Nato but also the upcoming EU presidency, must find common ground with a loose coalition that includes the resurgent Swedish Democratic Party. Unit defeat Andersson’s leftist coalition by a slim three-seat majority in the final results confirmed on Thursday.

Kristersson’s party lost ground, falling to third for the first time since 1976 with 19.1% of the vote. The Swedish Democratic Party came in second with 20.5%, making it the most successful anti-immigration party in Europe.

“The results have weakened Ulf Kristersson. Even though the Swedish Democrats scored just above 1%, symbolically it means a lot,” said Ann-Cathrine Jungar, an expert on far-right parties at Södertörn University. know.

Swedish Democratic Party leader Jimmie Åkesson applauds supporters near Stockholm on Sunday
Swedish Democratic Party leader Jimmie kesson applauds supporters near Stockholm on Sunday © Stefan Jerrevång / TT News Agency / AP

Most political scientists would expect nationalists to first gain national influence not by joining government, but by forging a tough bargain to become a political scientist. a party backing in parliament for a right-wing coalition.

But in giving some influence to the Swedish Democratic Party, a party with roots in the neo-Nazi movement, Kristersson is following in the footsteps of recent right-wing leaders in Norway, Finland and Denmark. Circuit, all have nationalist groups in government or as supporters of right-wing governments.

He will now begin negotiations with the Swedish Democratic Party along with his close allies the Christian Democrats and the Liberal Party to form a coalition in the coming weeks.

Jenny Madestam, an associate professor at the Swedish National Defense University, said the Swedish Democratic Party would try to “make the most of its position as the second largest party”, complicating matters further for Kristersson.

“It will be difficult,” she added. “The Swedish Democrats have the ability to put heavy pressure on Kristersson on reform and stance. Most likely they want to stay outside the government but get a lot of reforms instead.”

After the last election in 2018, it took the Social Democrats a record 134 days to put together a government that had struggled to survive a full term. The left-wing government has twice been forced to run on a right-wing budget and has regularly won votes by the lowest margins.

Right-wing officials and commentators say they expect government formation to be smoother this time, as the four stakeholders agree on many policies and lobby together. The biggest obstacle is the mutual distrust between the Liberals and the Swedish Democrats.

“I don’t think the problem is that big. The left wants to portray it as two sides hating each other because they want us to fail,” said Carolin Dahlman, a right-wing author and commentator. “But when you look at the specific topics this government has to deal with in terms of crime, immigration and the economy, they take similar positions.”

A right-wing government is likely to take a hardline approach to law and order, after Sweden went from one of the lowest levels of fatal shooting in Europe to the highest level in a decade. It could also offer a highly restrictive view of immigration, which the Swedish Democrats have long blamed on a rise in gang crime. In addition, it will support the revival of nuclear power in Sweden to boost the country’s electricity production.

But there are differences between the parties on issues such as unemployment benefits – Kristersson favors cuts while the more populist Swedish Democrats want to strengthen some measures – as well as other issues. culture as public service television.

Dahlman said she expected “bumps on the road” due to a small majority coalition but all far-right parties should understand that, if they disagree, Andersson will return as prime minister.

In the end, the Swedish Democrats need to decide what they want to do, say political experts. On Sunday’s election night, four senior party members told the Financial Times they thought the party should join the government, with one even suggesting they might ask for the post of prime minister. But they have reduced their eloquence to suggest that they are open to all possibilities.

“The Swedish Democrats don’t want accountability. They want to sit on the sidelines and be able to complain and push their politics. If they’re part of the government, people will say they’re responsible for everything, and that’s annoying for them,” Dahlman said.

Now, Kristersson, both winners and losers of these elections, is talking about bringing people together and creating a government for all Swedes. But first he must form a government and deal with the encouraged nationalist party.

“Our voters are sending a signal that they cannot be ignored,” said Aron Emilsson, a member of the Swedish Democratic Party. “They expect us to have an influence on immigration, integration, law and order, energy issues.”

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