Thursday 10/28/21
NORDICS

Conservatives get exploratory mandate in bid for Swedish government

The leader of the Moderate Party - in reality a conservative party - now has three days to hold exploratory talks with other parties
Sweden
The leader of the Swedish Moderate Party Ulf Kristersson, raising an LGBT rainbow flag. Photo: @UlfKristerssonM/Facebook.
The leader of the Swedish Moderate Party Ulf Kristersson, raising an LGBT rainbow flag. Photo: @UlfKristerssonM/Facebook.

The leader of Sweden's Moderate Party, Ulf Kristersson, has been given the task of trying to form a new government after a no-confidence vote brought the previous one down, parliamentary speaker Andreas Norlen said on Tuesday.

Norlen made the announcement after holding individual talks with representatives of the parliamentary groups to find out who had the best chance of being accepted by parliament.

"He is the leader of the largest party in the group of parties that toppled Prime Minister Stefan Lofven," Norlen said. Therefore, it was reasonable to give Kristersson the opportunity to see if he could replace Lofven, he added.

The leader of the Moderate Party - in reality a conservative party - now has three days to hold exploratory talks with other parties.

He has to report back to Norlen on Friday. Kristersson can ask for an extension of the deadline, but Norlen made it clear that he wants a vote on a potential prime minister as soon as possible.

The prime minister's job is up for grabs after Lofven stepped down on Monday, a week after losing a confidence vote amid a clash over proposed reforms to Sweden's rental market.

Minority government

He had led a minority government of his Social Democrats partnered with the Greens, propped up by the Liberals and hard left, among others. The left and the Liberals abandoned him over the rent issue.

Norlen, whose official title is president of the parliament, has to decide which candidate, in his opinion, has the best chance of forming a government with a working parliamentary majority, with at least 175 votes in the legislature.

Lofven himself is in the running to return as premier, as his Social Democrats have the most seats in parliament. Kristersson leads the legislature's second-largest grouping in a conservative alliance with the Christian Democrats.

The fact that the Liberals have turned their backs on Lofven and moved back to his side strengthens Kristersson's position. Nevertheless, he is dependent on the votes of the right-wing populists. This possible cooperation is a sticking point for many.

In parliament, this bloc would get 174 votes, one short of a majority. So he would only need one doubter from the Lofven camp in order to be elected prime minister. If the Riksdag rejects him, Norlen will have to look for a new candidate.

That is what the Social Democrat Lofven is hoping for. The dispute over the liberalization of rents has been settled, and he can now hope for the support of the Left and the centre-right Centre Party again. The only catch is that the Centre Party does not want to give the Left any influence and wants the Liberals back.

A four-party solution

"The solution to the crisis is for us four parties to agree with our 175 seats and find a common path," said Marta Stenevi of the Greens.

According to experts, Lofven's tactic now is to get himself re-elected prime minister with the votes of the Greens, the Centre and the Left and to sort out the substantive issues later.

He is aware that this is not easy, which is why he threatened on Tuesday to resign if he does not get a majority for the budget in the autumn - provided he is still or again prime minister in the autumn.

If the lawmakers can stick to the tight schedule, a vote on a new government could come by the end of the week. If there is no victor after four votes, parliament is dissolved and the country faces new elections.

It took three votes and 134 days to set up a government after the 2018 elections.

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