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SWEDEN DECIDES
Live Blog: parliament opens
Sweden's parliament, the Riksdag

Live Blog: parliament opens

Published: 05 Oct 2010 14:30 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Oct 2010 17:00 GMT+02:00

Live feed from the Riksdag, with English translation can be found here

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Tuesday October 5th, 5pm

Another eventful day in Swedish politics has come to a close with Fredrik Reinfeldt having presented his new government, the Sweden Democrats having added a little colour and outraged drama, and the king having calmly reminded the Riksdag of its role as a bastion of Swedish democracy.

Monday's events peaked with the appointment of the speaker. By Tuesday morning all the drama had been forgotten as the ceremonial occasion signalling the beginning of business as usual for Sweden's elected representatives had begun... or so we thought.

Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson stole a march on his sober-suited Riksdag colleagues by arriving for the traditional church service in Stockholm Cathedral clad in the folk costume of Blekinge, the rural county in the far south of Sweden that he calls home.

The 31-year-old's festive mood darkened however as the Swedish church bishop Eva Brunne began to speak about racism and xenophobia.

Åkesson and SD colleagues promptly stormed out of the church in disgust, claiming that Brunne was being party political when she referred to mass demonstrations against racism that were held across the country on Monday.

Brunne responded that the values that she preached in her sermon were Swedish, and Christian values, and are enshrined in the bible.

Åkesson has since apologised to the king.

Still, folk costumes and hurt feelings notwithstanding, the big news of the day remained the new government presented by Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

Some new faces, some old. More detail on the names and posts can be found elsewhere on The Local today.

Business as usual was the overarching theme of the prime minister's speech laying out government policy. Words such as "responsibility", "togetherness" and "employment" were all recurring themes of a speech in which Reinfeldt promised to seek broad cross-party compromises on issues from integration, to pensions and foreign policy.

Sweden has decided said the king, Sweden is thriving said Reinfeldt. One thing is for certain, for better or for worse, Swedish politics has gotten a little more interesting.

James Savage, Tuesday October 5th, 3.30pm

The arrival of the new ministers will mean the departure of a number of old faces. Those either being edged out or leaving of their own volition are:

Cristina Husmark Pehrsson (Moderate), Social Insurance Minister, Mats Odell (Christian Democrat) who departs as Financial Markets Minister, Åsa Torstensson (Centre), Infrastructure Minister, and Higher Education Minister Tobias Krantz (Liberal).

James Savage, Tuesday October 5th, 3.20pm

Fredrik Reinfeldt has presented his new government. Among the new ministers were Ulf Kristersson, Stefan Attefall, Peter Norman. Other new names include Hillevi Engström, who will head up the new Labour Market Department, Anna-Karin Hatt, Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd and Erik Ullenhag.

A new department - Landsbygdsdepartementet (the Department of Rural Affairs) will replace the Agriculture Department.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Tuesday October 5th, 3.09pm

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's new government included several new ministers:

Ulf Kristersson, Stefan Attefall, Peter Norman, Anna-Karin Hatt, Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd and Erik Ullenhag were all named.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Tuesday October 5th, 2.57pm

Fredrik Reinfeldt takes to the stage and launches begins with an upbeat tone referring to the "clouds clearing" after the financial crisis.

"Sweden rises after the financial crisis" - is a recurring theme.

"Where other countries cut back, we can make investments to meet the country's challenges for the future," Reinfeldt said proudly citing international studies which show Sweden's resilience.

100,000 more in employment, state finances are heading back into surplus and the number on sick pay has halved, Reinfeldt said of the Alliance's first mandate period.

"We continue to take responsibility for Sweden," he said.

Reinfeldt underlined that the Alliance has a dream for Sweden and all people living in Sweden, a dream based on "openness, tolerance and togetherness".

The Prime Minister talked repeatedly of importance of the long-term health of state finances and of taking responsibility for Sweden, challenging the parliament to unite in this process.

"Our primary goal is to move Sweden towards 100 percent employment," he said while underlining that the largest gulf in society is between those with a job and those without. "Every individual's employment contribution counts," he said.

New tax cuts on incomes "with a focus on low and middle income earners" are within the government's plan. The government also has the ambition to raise the threshold for the top rate of income tax - "a tax on education", Reinfeldt said.

"We will not accept that unemployment in the bad times, becomes permanent in the good," Reinfeldt said, while outlining a raft of proposals for young people and tackling record high rates of unemployment among the under 25s.

These initiatives include apprenticeships, lower payroll taxes and employment support.

Pensioners came into focus in the prime minister's speech. He outlined an intention to seek Social Democrat support to increase the working age from 67 to 69 as part of a broader pensions agreement.

Reinfeldt promised that those who are too sick to work shall receive benefits and that an inquiry will be launched to ensure that the system of checks and controls works as it should so that no genuine applicants are excluded.

Innovation strategy is to be developed with specific investments for young, female and immigrant business-owners. RUT and ROT tax deductions (for household services and work on the home) were praised and will thus remain "to protect these jobs".

Reinfeldt underlined that if state companies do not have a particular societal responsibility then they should be exposed to a competitive market.

Environment and transport came into focus - more homes, and investment in both roads and public transport.

School: "We want to see a school system where everyone has a chance to succeed, regardless of background".

Reinfeldt promised more resources to research, practical high-school training and more resources for teachers, with more hours of teaching in schools.

"We want Sweden to be a first-rate research nation," he said.

Fredrik Reinfeldt completed his speech by underlining a dream for the welfare sector and its importance for Sweden. In doing so he returned to international comparisons which place Sweden highly in the post-finance crisis world.

"The welfare sector should be developed so that more people can decide more for themselves, in elder care, in childcare and health care."

Reinfeldt outlined ambitions to cut taxes on pensioners. Furthermore the PM underlined the importance of elderly people to be able to have more choice and control over where to spend their latter years.

The prime minister spoke at length about crime and observed that in some parts of Sweden the "law of the strongman" has among some young people appeared to have taken hold and outlined a focus on tackling youth crime in response.

There is more to de done to increase equality among the sexes in Sweden, Fredrik Reinfeldt said. The RUT deduction and funds to stimulate women business-owners were cited as examples of government efforts to address inequality.

Reinfeldt addressed the issue of immigration and underlined that Sweden's open approach to immigration had benefited the country and made it a richer place to live.

He continued to suggest initiatives to tackle unemployment and discrimination in the labour market.

"The government employment line, is integration policy," Reinfeldt said, while underlining that it is the system that is at fault and not the individual with regard to unemployment.

The Swedish language is key to integration and to the development and expansion of job opportunities, Reinfeldt said, and announced the allocation

of funds for the improvement of Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) language classes and for special economic zones in deprived areas.

Fredrik Reinfeldt continued by outlining the government's environment policy including an expanded eco-car subsidy and to continue to work for international agreements on carbon emissions.

"Sweden shall be a force for... democracy, human rights and an open economic development for growth. Open, tolerant and equal societies are key... to build wealth and overcome prejudice," Reinfeldt said.

"A new age, brings new challenges," Reinfeldt said referring to the internet, security, nuclear weapons, and the establishment of Sweden's continued role at the heart of international agreements and peace intitiatives.

Reinfeldt stated that the government would seek a broad parliamentary agreement for Swedish operations overseas, including Afghanistan and Kosovo.

Minority government. Budget discipline. Broad agreements with other parties - primarily the Greens, but also the Social Democrats. These were some of the realities that Reinfeldt recognised in his speech.

"All people are different, but of equal value," Reinfeldt said underlining a faith in everyone's ability to take responsibility and power over their own lives.

James Savage, Tuesday October 5th, 2.57pm

The big question prior to the King’s speech to the Riksdag was how the monarch would handle the Sweden Democrats.

Carl Gustaf was faced with something of a dilemma. If he used the occasion to talk about the positive contribution of immigrants, for instance, he might be accused of indirectly having a go at the Sweden Democrats - and thereby getting involved in politics. The King, of course, is obliged to stay above politics. Yet to leave values out of the speech could lead him to be accused of ignoring Sweden’s divisions.

In the end, he handled the dilemma pretty well. He kept race and immigration out of it, but appeared to indirectly address both the tensions that caused the Sweden Democrats’ success - and the tensions that have resulted from it:

“A good society is built on mutual respect and the free exchange of opinions. This relies on tolerance of differences of opinion and the security of life and property. The Parliament of Sweden has successfully promoted these principles in its representation of the Swedish people,” he said.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Tuesday October 5th, 2.17pm

King Carl XVI Gustaf delivers his speech to a packed Riksdag.

The king expressed thanks to the Swedish people for the reception given to the Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel for their wedding.

He continued to talk of Sweden's, and the parliament's, democratic tradition as a forum for diversity of opinion, freedom of speech, and tolerance.

The band plays as the Riksdag awaits Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Tuesday October 5th, 2.13pm

Some mixed reactions to the Sweden Democrats impromptu departure from the traditional church service as part of the festivities surrounding the traditional opening of Sweden's parliament, the Riksdag.

Erik Almqvist (head of SD youth league and new MP): "just left Storkyrkan and the opening of parliament. Obnoxious politicized church which takes the position of the leftist extremists.”

Linus Bylund (head of Stockholm SD) - “SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! Shame on the Swedish church. SHAME on Bishop Eva Brunne!”

Were typical of the outraged comments coming from various Sweden Democrat Tweets.

Eva-Lena Jansson (Social Democrats): "Those of us who remain applaud Eva Brunne's sermon"

Emma Henriksson (Christian Democrats): "Proud over a church which dares to take a stand and stand up to racism."

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Tuesday October 5th, 1.43pm

It has been reported that words chosen by Stockholm bishop Eva Brunne on the subject or racism and xenophobia in her speech in Storkyrkan on Tuesday fell foul of the sensitivities of Sweden's new parliamentary party - the Sweden Democrats.

The group of 20 Sweden Democrat MPs departed the church in unison in protest at what they argued were words directed against them.

"The racism which says that you are not worth as much as me, that you should not have the same rights as me, not worth a life in freedom... is not worthy of a democracy," the bishop said according to news agency TT.

"It was clearly an attack directed towards us," Åkesson said.

Åkesson claimed that the protest was spontaneous and not planned in advance and he confirmed that the party's MPs planned to take part in the remainder of the day's events.

With widespread media speculation that Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf will also address the issues of tolerance and racism, and Sweden's multicultural democracy in his speech at the opening of parliament, it remains to be seen whether Åkesson and his SD colleagues will be true to their word.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Tuesday October 5th, 12:30am

Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson elected to turn back the sartorial clock on Tuesday, arriving at Stockholm's Storkyrkan clad in the traditional folk costume from his home county of Blekinge.

Complete with yellow knickerbockers and knee garters, 31-year-old Åkesson was accompanied by his girlfriend Louise Erixxon in painting a little colour to the festivities.

While the Sweden Democrats have courted controversy recently after presenting a culture policy dominated by folk dancing and music, as well as allocating funds for more Viking museums, it is not immediately clear if Tuesday's sartorial coup carries a political motive.

"It is the Blekinge costume. It is a festive occasion today and I am set to meet the king and so I want to show my respect," Åkesson told the TT news agency.

Aside from Erixson, Åkesson was flanked by SD colleagues Kent Ekeroth and Björn Söder as he walked towards the church. The pair had declined to join in the folksy fun however, electing instead to display the standard uniform of the 21st century politician - the dark suit and tie.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Tuesday October 5th, 12:08am

Well the election may be over for another four years, save for a few disputed seats in the regions, but the voter polls have already started to make an appearance.

In the first DN/Synovate poll since the September 19th ballot the Moderates and the Green party, the main winners in the election, have both made gains.

As Fredrik Reinfeldt prepares to present his new government he does so as leader of Sweden largest political party, according to the poll, with the backing of 31.7 percent of the electorate, up from 30.1 percent on election day.

The Green Party has meanwhile climbed to 8.9 percent, up from 7.34 percent in the election, while the Social Democrats dropped to 29.6 percent.

While the percentages claimed by the two opposing blocs remained the same - 49.3 percent for the Alliance to 43.7 percent for the Red-Greens - the Alliance would claim a majority of the seats in the Riksdag as the Sweden Democrats have fallen back to 4.7 percent.

If an election were to be held today the Alliance would thus claim 176 Riksdag seats to 156 for the Red-Greens and 17 for the Sweden Democrats, who are busy profiling themselves as the third bloc in Swedish politics.

While there are officially four years until the next election, the prospect of an early vote is not out of the question as the centre-right remain two seats short of a parliamentary majority.

If a Fredrik Reinfeldt government is shown to be unable to govern efficiently then a new election remains a possibility, albeit one that most observers regard as a last resort.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Tuesday October 5th, 11:17am

According to the Aftonbladet daily Fredrik Reinfeldt is set to expand the cabinet in order to ensure that none of the Alliance parties lose ministerial posts and to maintain unity among the centre-right.

The newspaper reported on Tuesday that a further two Moderate party ministers will be name in reflection of the party's election success.

The smaller Alliance parties - the Liberals, Centre and Christian Democrats - are set to maintain their four, four and three ministerial posts respectively. That would leave 13 posts occupied by the Moderate party in an expanded 24 person cabinet.

Several media reported on Tuesday morning that the Moderate Party's Ulf Kristensson is set to replace Kristina Husmark Pehrsson at social security minister. Kristensson has in recent years served as a Stockholm city commissioner.

Outgoing Liberal Party party secretary, Erik Ullenhag, has also been named as a likely ministerial candidate, with research and higher education minister Tobias Krantz reported to be set to make way.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Tuesday October 5th, 10:53am

It has been announced that Sweden's hard working public representatives are to be rewarded with a pay rise. The 1,000 kronor ($150) pay rise will lift their monthly salary to 56,000 kronor, equating to a 1.8 percent hike.

The new pay scale will be introduced from November 1st.

Despite the pay rise Swedish MPs claim on or below the average salaries to public representatives across the OECD. Members of the European parliament, for example, earn over 50 percent more.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Tuesday October 5th, 10:00am

Good morning and welcome to The Local's live blog from the opening of the Swedish parliament, day two.

The opening of the Swedish parliament, the Riksdag, is a suitably festive and ceremonial occasion and gives the king a rare opportunity to publicly demonstrate his role as head of state.

The day begins at 11.30am with music on Mynttorget, outside the parliament building. The location was the scene of an altogether less harmonious chorus on Monday evening as more than four thousand Swedes of all shapes, colours and creeds gathered to demonstrate for tolerance and against racism.

At 12.30pm the members of the new parliament will shuffle into Storkyrkan in the Old Town for a service lead by Stockholm's bishop Eva Brunne, joined by representatives for the Pentecostal and Catholic churches.

Storkyrkan enjoyed its day in the limelight when it housed the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling.

The Armed Forces marching band will then be drafted in for more song and music as members of parliament and guests arrive at the Riksdag at around 1pm.

The official opening of the Riksdag will take place at 2pm.

Tuesday is not all about pomp and ceremony however as Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt will read his statement of government policy and present the new government at 2.20pm.

Since the September 19th election, speculation has been rife as to who will and will not be named in the new government. The 2010 election has added extra suspense to the proceedings as the Alliance coalition has been left two mandates short of a parliamentary majority.

The latest development to emerge on Tuesday morning was the news that social security minister Cristina Husmark Pehrsson will be forced out, with infrastructure minister Åsa Torstensson and financial markets minister Mats Odell also repotedly in line for the chop.

Stay tuned to The Local for all the day's events and updates as Fredrik Reinfeldt makes history as the first leader of a centre-right coalition to present two consecutive governments.

James Savage, Monday October 4th, 5:08pm

With the speaker duly elected, attention will now focus on Fredrik Reinfeldt's choice of government, due to be presented tomorrow.

The main question that's being asked is whether he will insist that his own Moderate Party's record election result is reflected in an increased number of Moderate ministers - to the detriment of his Alliance partners.

Gossip about the new government is already leaking out. Cristina Husmark Pehrsson (Moderate), currently social insurance minister, is tipped to lose her job, according to TT. The government's handling of sick benefit reform turned out to be the opposition's strongest card in the election campaign. Husmark Pehrsson has been criticized both for not foreseeing the negative results of the reforms and for not communicating the purpose of the changes clearly enough.

Other ministers tipped by Expressen to be kicked out include Infrastructure Minister Åsa Torstensson (Centre Party) and Financial Markets Minister Mats Odell (Christian Democrat).

HG Wessberg, currently Reinfeldt's closest political aide, is among those tipped for a ministerial post.

That's it for today, but we'll be following developments live on The Local from early tomorrow morning.

James Savage, Monday October 4th, 4:04pm

So there we have it: Per Westerberg, the government's choice of speaker, was re-elected with votes from the Sweden Democrats. But the fact is he would have been elected without them, thanks to the actions of three Red-Green members.

The Red-Greens might try and play on the fact that the government is being supported by the Sweden Democrats, but this fact becomes less potent when the far-right party's votes didn't change the result.

Exactly what happened to the Left Party's Christina Höj Larsen is unclear. According to some reports she missed the vote because she went to the toilet, some claim she went for a coffee.

The upshot was a noticeably irritated Sweden Democrat grouping. You can't just keep on sending people on toilet trips for the next four years, Jimmy Åkesson told Expressen, indicating his suspicions that there was a conspiracy to prevent his party deciding the outcome, and that Larsen's absence was carefully planned.

What is clear is that one Red-Green MP voted with the government. Who that was, and what persuaded them to switch sides, has yet to be revealed.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Monday October 4th, 1:44pm

Ulf Holm appointed as second deputy speaker with a crushing 325 votes to the SD candidate Mikael Jansson's 20. This means that not one single non-SD member of parliament voted for Jansson.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Monday October 4th, 1:38pm

The Centre Party's Fredrik Federley comments on the Sweden Democrat's Björn Söder addressing parliament: "It hurts to see SD at the lectern, but the people have voted."

A nervous-looking Söder took the stand to introduce the party's candidate for second deputy speaker.

Votes are currently being counted by Mona Sahlin and it is clear that the Green Party's Ulf Holm will be appointed instead of SD's Mikael Jansson.

James Savage, Monday October 4th, 12:42pm

194 members voted for Per Westerberg. 153 voted for Kent Härstedt. The Alliance has 173 MPs, the Sweden Democrats have 20. That means that one member of the Red-Green bloc voted for Westerberg.

It also means that, technically, given that there were two abstentions, Westerberg was not elected simply thanks to Sweden Democrat support.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Monday October 4th, 12:25am

According to the Riksdagen Twitter feed, the Sweden Democrats have voted for Per Westerberg. Centre Party MP Fredrik Federley is sitting in the chamber and appears to have drawn that conclusion.

With two of the 349 votes apparently missing, it is not yet clear if the SD votes had any relevance to the outcome of the election however.

James Savage, Monday October 4th, 12:10pm

Christina Höj Larsen's abstention appears to be due to a cock-up, rather than a deliberate decision to foil the Sweden Democrats. According to Aftonbladet.se, she missed her constituency's call to go down to the dais and vote.

She was seen running down to the ballot box, but was turned away for being late.

In the new parliament, the Alliance is two votes short of an overall majority. The question now is who else, apart from Larsen, failed to vote?

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Monday October 4th, 12:05am

347 ballots have been submitted, of a possible 349. Peter Eriksson is opening each envelope and handing the ballots to Mona Sahlin who is then reading the results. Neck and neck so far.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Monday October 4th, 12:01am

Unlike several other parliaments across Europe, such as France and the UK, the seat placements in Sweden's Riksdag are not allocated according to party, or bloc allegiance. The places are instead allocated according to established parliamentary procedure and thus mean that parties' candidates are spread across the chamber.

Swedish daily Aftonbladet has been in contact with sixteen members of parliament for various parties who have been allocated seats adjacent to one of the members of the Sweden Democrats. Reactions have been mixed, the newspaper reported.

”It was my nightmare,” said the Left party's Jens Holm, who will sit next to David Lång.

”I am without words and of course it doesn't feel good. Their members probably don't know that I am a Muslim and will perhaps not be too keen to sit next to an immigrant woman,” said the Social Democrat's Shadiye Heydari, who will sit next to Sven-Olof Sällström.

Jimmie Åkesson expressed surprise when Aftonbladet called to tell him of the reactions calling them a ”little frivolous”.

Meanwhile several Social Democrats are seen to be wearing badges expressing the messages ”We like diversity” (Vi gillar olika) or ”Don't touch my friend” (Rör inte min kompis) as a statement against the Sweden Democrats.

James Savage, Monday October 4th, 11:56am

It was just announced from the dais that Christina Höj Larsen, a member for the Left Party, was not voting in the election of the speaker.

It is not clear why she has decided not to use her vote - she appears to be in the chamber. But it only takes two members from the opposition to fail to support Kent Härstedt in order for Per Westerberg to be re-elected (and for the Sweden Democrats to be neutralized).

James Savage, Monday October 4th, 11:45am

The Sweden Democrats have kept their cards close to their chests. We just don't know how they've voted until the votes are counted.

Another element of uncertainty is introduced by this being a secret ballot - members of any party could vote against the party line.

There has been a war of words between the seven mainstream political parties. A press release just sent out by the Christian Democrats calls the Social Democrats' tactics 'undignified'. They claim that the long-standing tradition in the Riksdag is that the largest bloc provides the speaker.

"We all have to realise that we have a responsibility to maintain the status of the speaker's role. But I think that the events of recent days risk devaluing the status of the role. I am thinking particularly of the Social Democrats' actions," said Stefan Attefall, group leader for the Christian Democrats.

The Social Democrats, on the other hand, have a different idea of the Riksdag's traditions. As the largest party, they should provide the unity candidate, they argue.

Each side, it seems, is blaming the other for giving influence to the Sweden Democrats - and that's before a single vote is cast for speaker.

James Savage, Monday October 4th, 11:30am

Social Democrat leader Mona Sahlin is chairing proceedings, in her role as one of the longest-serving members of the Riksdag. The longest-serving member, known as the 'Ålderspresident' is Per Westerberg, who for obvious reasons cannot chair this session.

She initially declared Per Westerberg to be the winner, but immediately announced that Sven-Erik Österberg had contested the result, and ordered a secret ballot.

Members are now filing to the front to hand in their sealed ballots.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Monday October 4th, 11:22am

Anna Kinberg Batra has formally proposed the sitting Speaker, Per Westerberg, as the Alliance candidate as speaker.

Kinberg Batra argued that as the representative from the largest party within the the largest bloc in the Riksdag, Westerberg should be given the role for the next parliament.

She continued to argue that his Westerberg's credentials speak for themselves as he has led the parliament for the previous four years and gained experience while doing so.

James Savage, Monday October 4th, 11:16am

Former Social Democrat minister Sven-Erik Österberg has formally proposed Kent Härstedt as speaker. His argument is that the speaker should be drawn from the Riksdag's largest party.

Härstedt's work with Unicef, the Swedish civil society and in the government offices gives him the necessary experience to be speaker.

James Savage, Monday October 4th, 11:16am

Before we get to the crucial vote, the names of all 349 members of the Riksdag are being read out. Sounds like taking the register at school. Also a reminder that Sweden has a lot of MPs for a relatively small country.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Monday October 4th, 11:01am

Riksdag speaker Per Westerberg welcomes the new parliament and declares the first meeting open.

Westerberg used his speech to underline that all members have been elected by the voters according to the principal of universal suffrage. And to remind all members of the responsibility associated with their appointment.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Monday October 4th, 10:50am

The Centre Party has announced that Anders Flanking will leave his post as party secretary, to concentrate on being a full-time member of parliament.

Flanking is the third party secretary among the Alliance parties to leave their post after the election, following Per Schlingmann of the Moderates and Erik Ullenhag of the Liberals.

Flanking will remain in his post until his replacement has been appointed, according to a party statement.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Monday October 4th, 10:47am

Nina Larsson has been appointed as the Liberal Party's new party secretary to take over from Erik Ullenhag, who will now work full time as a member of parliament.

Larsson is 34-years-old and is a lieutenant in the Armed Forces.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Monday October 4th, 10:45am

Sweden Democrats' candidate for second Deputy Speaker, former party leader Mikael Jansson, has confirmed that the major parties have shown no interest in negotiating with the party, while underlining that it was a natural course of action to present their own candidate.

Party leader Jimmie Åkesson was unwilling to divulge any further information over the party's intentions when he arrived at Monday's meeting, with some speculation that the party plans to abstain.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Monday October 4th, 10:35am

With less than half an hour to go before the Speaker vote, the Sweden Democrats have completed their meeting and party secretary Björn Söder has laid down the gauntlet to the major parties, inviting them to get in touch.

"The other parties have until 11am to take our outstretched hand," Söder told news agency TT.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson, Monday October 4th, 10:00am

It's Monday morning and Sweden's parliament is set to vote for a new speaker who will be charged with opening the assembly on Tuesday afternoon.

The newly-elected members of the Riksdag will meet for the first time on Monday for a roll-call and for the election of the speaker and deputy speakers. The new parliamentary year will formally begin on Tuesday with the opening of parliament at 2pm.

The allocation of seats following the 2010 election has now been determined and leaves neither bloc with a majority, thus rendering key votes open to negotiation among the parties. The first such vote is the election of the speaker and deputy speakers which will take place at 11am, extending the drama of an election that has already provided its share of excitement and intrigue.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's overtures to the Green Party have so far received a mixed reception. But there have been indications on some of the key issues - not least the Sweden Democrats' favourite subject, immigration - that would enable the Greens to play the role of primary kingmaker.

The Sweden Democrats have meanwhile been busy demanding a say in the speaker posts.

So stay tuned as Local journalists Peter Vinthagen Simpson and James Savage work to keep you abreast of the day's developments.

Paul Rapacioli (paul.rapacioli@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

15:55 October 5, 2010 by Iraniboy
"The racism which says that you are not worth as much as me, that you should not have the same rights as me, not worth a life in freedom... is not worthy of a democracy," the bishop said according to news agency TT.

If you're not racist you shouldn't be annoyed by this comment!!

She is absolutely right! Democracy is the best way of government but when it comes to racism it should always remember the democracy of Germany in 1950s.
16:10 October 5, 2010 by persepeikko
Nice dreams. I´m guessing this tax-rabatt will be compensated in higher taxing of goods, electricity and gasoline.

One might even ask where you get the money for the on-coming circus. They´ll be loans from private funds unnamed. Just ask and not even the Riksdag knows.

Iraniboy: As a foreigner it strikes me a bit odd that racism is taken into a sermon at that particular point. Those are indeed good words but timing?
20:15 October 5, 2010 by Iraniboy
@persepeikko

What timing? You mean during the 4 upcoming years that SD is in Riksdag nobody is allowed to talk about racism and xenophobia? Surely if they are not, they shouldn't be offended and they should even support it!
02:06 October 6, 2010 by persepeikko
Iraniboy:

Just wondering. This whole scene is a bit alien to me, that´s all.

I´ve never seen reactions like that.
02:25 October 9, 2010 by janswed
I am somewhat offended that the Riksdag had to be open and spoken to by a Bishop Ialways thougt of sweden as a secular country,religeon is offensive,that is the great divider of humankind.
12:37 October 11, 2010 by wenddiver
I just hope that the SD continues to wear their folk clothing and ignore the Lesbian fake Bishop.
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The Local speaks to one of Europe's leading security experts about why social media meant the Swedish military couldn't keep their 'submarine' search a secret and how she believes the country will ramp up its security against Russia. READ  

Interview
'Swedes are funnier than they think'
Comedian Al Pitcher has launched his new tour. Photo: www.alpitcher.com

'Swedes are funnier than they think'

New Zealand-born Al Pitcher launched his new comedy show in Stockholm this week. There wasn't a dull moment as The Local phoned up the man who has become one of Sweden's hottest comedians, while he took an eventful stroll in the capital. READ  

National
Stockholm suicide bomb investigation closes
The suicide bombing took place in 2010. Photo: TT

Stockholm suicide bomb investigation closes

Sweden's Security Service (Säpo) has announced that it will stop its core investigation into a suicide bombing in Stockholm four years ago. READ  

Stockholm 'sub hunt'
Military heads into 'new phase' in sub search
The search for the missing 'submarine' is now in its sixth day. Photo: TT

Military heads into 'new phase' in sub search

A press conference on the search for a suspected foreign vessel in Swedish waters revealed that the Armed Forces would be heading into a "new phase" on Wednesday, although it remained unclear what that might involve. READ  

Lifestyle
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
The bronze replica cannon. Photo: Beth Dacey.

Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden

A replica of one of the cannons present on Stockholm's iconic Vasa warship when it sank in 1628 is being tested for the first time in central Sweden. READ  

Health
Swedish farmers contracted swine flu
Swine flu can spread between pigs and humans. Photo: TT

Swedish farmers contracted swine flu

A human strain of the swine flu virus normally only found in pigs was discovered in Sweden earlier this year, the country's Public Health Agency has revealed. READ  

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21 October

Denna & den här (The Swedish Teacher) »

"?Denna? or ?den hr?? Swedish language students often ask question about different pronouns. One pronoun that especially..." READ »

 

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