Without a majority and split on whether to accept support from the far-right anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party, Sweden’s centre-right Alliance – a four-party group – is facing a tough road ahead.
In the election, which was held a little more than two weeks ago, Sweden Democrats emerged as a power broker.
As reported by Bloomberg, the disarray follows political turmoil around Europe, where gains of ar-right, populists and anti-EU parties have upended decades of political tradition. Sweden’s Social Democrats posted their worst result in a century and the nationalist surge is now testing the cohesion of the Alliance, a grouping of Sweden’s centre-right parties formed in 2004.
Alliance leaders, led by the Moderate Party’s Ulf Kristersson, are calling on ousted Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to set aside bloc politics and back them. Lofven is calling on the Alliance to do the same in reverse.
According to Bloomberg, Kristersson has said that he’s prepared to push the government process to “the bitter end.” According to people familiar with his party’s strategy, it will first try the support in parliament for an Alliance government and if that fails go ahead with alternatives including a smaller Moderates-led coalition that could rely on the Sweden Democrats.
Meanwhile, forming a government with the support of the Sweden Democrats has been off limits for the smaller Centre and Liberal parties. The nationalists are also reluctant to back a government with the Centre Party, which is generally the most pro-immigration.
But Tobias Billstrom, group leader of the Moderates, sounded more upbeat. “A lot is being said right now,” he said to reporters on September 26. “I’m sure we are going to solve any problem as long as there’s good will. We’re having good and positive discussions but we also have a counter-party in the Social Democrats to which we have extended a hand.”
As for Ardalan Shekarabi, a key Social Democrat and minister of public administration since 2014, a bipartisan solution is needed.
“At least two of the centre-right parties – the Centre party and the Liberals – have been clear that they don’t want to give SD any influence over government policy,” he told Bloomberg on September 26. “The decent parties need to do what we can to cooperate to secure a decent rule of Sweden during the coming four years.”