Ulvskog: German poll shows voters want unity

Germany's general election showed voters wanted more unity in society, Sweden's ruling Social Democratic Party said on Monday, putting a positive spin on the stalemate the vote produced.

“It’s extremely difficult to make comparisons between countries, but what’s apparent from the last two elections in Norway and Germany, is that voters do not want a political model which is going to create division in society,” party secretary Marita Ulvskog told AFP.

“We’ve noticed this happening in Sweden too over the past few months, so the recent election results are just further confirmation of the trend,” Ulvskog said at a press conference to launch a national tour.

Sunday’s poll put the conservative Christian Democrats under Angela Merkel one point ahead of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democrats (SPD) but crucially without enough to form a governing majority.

Swedish Prime Minister Goeran Persson had late Sunday welcomed Schroeder’s better than expected performance.

A week ago, opposition Labor party leader Jens Stoltenberg’s centre-left coalition claimed victory in Norway’s general election, defeating Kjell Magne Bondevik’s centre-right government.

Sweden’s Social Democrats have won the last three elections and rule with the support of the Greens and the former communists, the Left Party, although recent polls put the opposition right-wing coalition ahead.



Sweden’s right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The four parties backing Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister on Sunday announced that they had agreed to keep the current Speaker, Andreas Norlén in place, when the role is put to a vote as parliament opens on Monday.

Sweden's right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The parties won a three-seat majority over the bloc led by the incumbent Social Democrats in Sweden’s general election on September 11th, and are currently in the middle of negotiating how they will form Sweden’s next government. 

Sweden’s parliament meets at 11am for the official installation of the 349 MPs for this mandate period. The votes for the Speaker and three Deputy Speakers are the first item on the agenda, after which the parties each select their parliamentary leaders and then vote on who should chair each of the parliamentary committees. 

READ ALSO: What happens next as parliament reopens? 

In a joint press release announcing the decision, the parties also agreed that the Sweden Democrats would be given eight of the 16 chairmanships the bloc will have of parliamentary committees in the next parliament, and that MPs for all four parties would back Julia Kronlid, the Sweden Democrats’ Second Deputy Leader, as the second deputy Speaker, serving under Norlén. 

In the press release, the parties said that Norlén had over the last four years shown that he has “the necessary personal qualities and qualifications which the role requires”. 

The decision to retain Norlén, who presided over the 134 days of talks and parliamentary votes that led to the January Agreement in 2019, was praised by Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson. 

Norlén, she said in a statement, had “managed his responsibilities well over the past four years and been a good representative of Sweden’s Riksdag.” 

The decision to appoint Kronlid was opposed by both the Left Party and the Green Party, who said that she supported tightening abortion legislation, and did not believe in evolution.

The Green Party’s joint leader Märta Stenevi said that her party “did not have confidence in Julia Kronlid”, pointing to an interview she gave in 2014 when she said she did not believe that humans were descended from apes.

The party has proposed its finance spokesperson Janine Alm Ericson as a rival candidate. 

The Left Party said it was planning to vote for the Centre Party’s candidate for the post second deputy Speaker in the hope of blocking Kronlid as a candidate.