Centre dumps nuclear deal

The Centre Party has said that it will drop its deal to support the Social Democrats on the nuclear power issue, choosing instead to reach an agreement with its partners in the centre-right Alliance.

Leader Maud Olofsson said her party’s long-standing agreement with the Social Democrats and the Left Party to decommission Sweden’s nuclear power plants had not borne fruit. She also signalled a softening in the party’s previously stark anti-nuclear stance.

“We’ve changed strategy. We’ve been talking about decommissioning for 35 years, and still we have nuclear power,” she told Swedish Radio.

Olofsson said that the Social Democrats had already broken the agreement, partly by reducing public spending on energy research and by not licensing small-scale water power projects.

“They break agreements when it suits them,” she told TT.

The Centre Party’s agreement with the left-wing parties had been unpopular with the other centre-right parties, as it made it impossible for the Alliance to form a joint policy.

Christian Democrat leader Göran Hägglund welcomed Olofsson’s comments. The possibility for the Alliance to form an agreement on energy is symbolically important, he said. Hägglund added that he expected the Alliance to announce a joint package before the election, at least with respect to policy measures for the next four years.

There remain differences of opinion between the Alliance parties. The Liberal Party has argued that nuclear power could be expanded, while the Centre Party still wants to replace nuclear energy with other sources of power. Olofsson said that although nuclear power in Sweden was safe, mining uranium was dangerous, as was storing nuclear waste. She also pointed to the dangers for international security.

“We can see what is happening in Iran.”

But Olofsson said that Sweden will not manage to find sufficient alternative energy to close a reactor in the next parliament.

She added that she still wanted to strike a deal with the Social Democrats, but that now they would have to sign up to the Alliance’s package.

“They have had their chance to lead Sweden to a broad agreement,” she said.