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Centre Party anticipates billion kronor windfall

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13:37 CEST+02:00

Sweden's Centre Party is on its way to becoming one of the richest political parties in the world.

The party, which is part of the opposition conservative alliance, is the second smallest in Sweden's parliament, with only 22 out of 349 MPs. And in terms of annual income it brought in a relatively meagre 32.2 million kronor last year - only slightly more than the Greens and the Left Party.

But the industry paper Resumé has reported that the Centre Party is in negotiations to sell a media company which it owns through a holding company, Randello Invest.

The company, Centertidningar [Centre Newspapers], is the parent company of a number of profitable local newspaper groups and, according to Resumé's sources, is worth up to 1 billion kronor.

In terms of annual income, the Social Democrats and the Moderates are by far the best-funded parties in Sweden, with income last year of 145 million kronor and 95 million kronor respectively.

But the sale of Centertidningar would give the Centre Party resources of a quantity which are unheard of in Sweden - and rare in the rest of the world.

"There are certain French parties which are up there with significant sums, but I think we are rather unique," said party secretary Jöran Hägglund, speaking to Svenska Dagbladet.

He declined to comment on the figures but he said that while much of it would be invested, a certain amount would be put aside to help the party grow.

At the last election the Centre Party's budget was 20 million kronor. Although Hägglund did not say when a sale would take place, he noted that "it gives us the conditions to have a higher budget than last time".

But he acknowledged that there could be a downside for a political party to be rolling in cash.

"We have succeeded in building up the company with an industrious and steady approach. And we don't want to change that image of ourselves," said Hägglund.

"We don't want to come across as if we are buying votes."

Sources: Resumé, Svenska Dagbladet

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