Alliance rows over Centre deal with SDP

A row has broken out in Sweden’s normally united centre-right Alliance after the Centre Party, a key member of the bloc, made a deal with the Social Democrats over energy policy.

The Liberal Party, a fellow Alliance member, accused the Centre of stitching up the deal behind the backs of its allies.

The Moderate Party, the largest opposition grouping, tried to play down the differences.

The Centre has cooperated with the Social Democrats and the Left Party over energy policy since 1997. On Wednesday, sustainable development minister Mona Sahlin presented a string of proposals to encourage wind power generation. The ideas had been developed by the government together with the Left and Centre parties.

The Liberal Party’s (Folkpartiet’s) deputy chairman Jan Björklund accused the Centre of going behind the backs of the other Aliiance parties.

“This was news to us, and I am very surprised. Nobody in our party leadership had been informed,” he told TT.

Björklund said that he had believed that the Centre would try to get out of their understanding with the Social Democrats.

“But this indicates that the reverse is true. It’s more as though they are deepening their cooperation. Clearly this worries us,” he said.

Björklund also accused the Centre of obstructing his party’s attempts to reach an agreement on energy policy within the Alliance.

Jöran Hägglund, secretary of the Centre Party, countered that the Liberals were in no position to accuse them of going behind the backs of the Alliance.

“The Liberals made an deal about eavesdropping with the government without informing the others, despite the fact that this is an area in which we cooperate in the Alliance.”

Hägglund denied that the Centre was deepening its partnership with the Social Democrats. He said that the Liberals had not taken any initiatives to form a joint Alliance energy policy.

“Publicly they say they have, but internally, the question has never been raised.”

The Christian Democrats also questioned the Centre Party’s relationship with the Social Democrats.

“The Centre is weaving itself ever more tightly with the Social Democrats. One deal leads to another and it becomes a vicious circle. This is unfortunate – it should be going in the opposite direction,” said the Christian Democrats’s group leader Stefan Attefall.

But the Moderate Party’s group leader Mikael Odenberg tried to downplay the differences.

“We have known for months that these proposals were on their way,” said Odenberg, adding that he thought it was natural for the government to negotiate on the programme with the Centre Party because of the agreement between the two parties on energy policy.

“It’s clear that the Centre isn’t going to pass over the cahnce to make a difference,” said Odenberg, who said he did not believe that the news signified a deeper partnership between Social Democrats and the Centre Party.

TT/The Local