Moderates reject cooperation with far-right party

The Moderate Party has said it would not accept support from the nationalist Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna) in order to form a majority in the Skåne region after the election.

Sven Otto Littorin, Moderate party secretary, said even a partnership with the Social Democrats was preferable than ruling with the far-right grouping.

“Our first priority is naturally not to jump into bed with the Social Democrats. But everything depends on whether we can reach an agreement on a sensible programme,” Littorin told TT.

Signals of cooperation were not immediately forthcoming from Social Democrat headquarters.

Littorin’s Social Democrat counterpart, Marita Ulvskog, made it clear that her first priority was getting votes for her own party, followed by getting votes for her party’s political allies. In this context, the Moderates and Social Democrats are arch-enemies.

“We’ve got to be very clear that there’s a left and a right in Swedish politics, and that’s where the line is drawn,” she said.

Ulvskog would not be drawn into speculating on potential partnerships to shut out the Sweden Democrats.

“I think that would be counter-productive,” she said.

In the last election in 2002, the Sweden Democrats were the largest party not to win any seats in the Riksdag, the national parliament, and they won council seats in 69 local authorities.

This autumn they have ambitions to enter the Riksdag and win seats in county councils. They are seen as having the greatest chance in Skåne, where they could find themselves in a decisive role if neither the left nor right wing blocks wins an outright majority.

Malmö newspaper Sydsvenskan quoted a number of leading Moderates in the region saying that they would even cooperate with Social Democrats to break the deadlock.

Jerker Swanstein, leader of Skåne’s Moderates, has ruled out the centre-right parties forming an administration reliant on the support of extremists, as they did in 1998-2002. But Swanstein was anxious to play down talk of partnership with the Social Democrats.

“That is as unlikely as the Moderates ruling with the Left Party,” he said.

Social Democrat regional commissioner Uno Aldegren did not rule out partnership with the centre-right, but said that in that case the Moderates would not be his partners of choice.

Littorin said he does not believe that the Sweden Democrats will be elected to the Riksdag, but did not discount the possibility that the party might do better than in the last election. The Moderates say they are prepared to meet the party in pre-election debates. Ulvskog, however, is doubtful about the prospect.

“We don’t want to create new arenas for the Sweden Democrats,” she said.

Jimmie Åkesson, the leader of the Sweden Demcorats, said his party would could only benefit from the major parties competing to keep them out.

“It shows clearly that we are the only alternative in Swedish politics,” he said.