Alliance leaders discuss new government

After his narrow win in Sunday's election, Moderate Party leader Fredrik Reinfeldt is expected on Tuesday to be called to the Riksdag by speaker Björn von Sydow, who will formally ask him to try to form a government.

That Reinfeldt has sufficient support in the new parliament is not in doubt – his Alliance has 178 seats compared to the left-wing parties’ 171.

What remains to be seen is how the big jobs in government will be filled. Governing in a four-party alliance means that Reinfeldt’s room for manoeuvre is limited: the three smaller parties in the bloc each covet certain jobs, and the four leaders are certain to enter tough negotiations as the euphoria of victory settles.

The leaders met on Monday at Reinfeldt’s offices in the Riksdag. They discussed how the job of forming a government would be carried out, but insisted that there were no decisions taken on ministerial jobs as yet.

“We have agreed that the process of building a government will be led by we four, and no, we have not spoken about names – that is the last part of the process,” said Reinfeldt.

If ministerial jobs were to be divided strictly on the lines of the election result then the Moderates would be allotted half the posts, or around 12 or 13 jobs.

But Maud Olofsson, whose own Centre Party saw its vote increase on Sunday to make it the Alliance’s second biggest party, said that the jobs would not necessarily be divided up on the basis of strict proportionality.

“We’ve all been very insistent that everyone should win from the Alliance partnership,” she said, adding that her party’s success would be marked in other ways.

“What I can say is that the environment and equality questions are two important areas that the voters have signalled should have a real place in the Alliance’s work,” Olofsson said.

While Reinfeldt came across as serious, Olofsson and Christian Democrat leader Göran Hägglund were relaxed as usual with journalists. The big loser in the Alliance’s election campaign, Lars Leijonborg, disappeared quickly from the scene.

Measures to get more Swedes into work will be high up on the agenda when the new government presents its first programme to the Riksdag. Reinfeldt would not say on Monday whether any specific targets for unemployment or employment. He did say, however, that voters will be given an income tax reduction by the beginning of next year.

“Our hope is to introduce the policies we won the election with as quickly as possible,” he said.

The new government will need to hurry to get a budget in place by 16th October, only ten days after assuming the reins of power. Olofsson said she expected the proposal for a tax deduction for domestic services such as cleaning and gardening to be part of the proposal.

“Ordinary people will be able to live better and get more control over their lives.”

As prime minister, Reinfeldt will dispose of an official residence at Sagerska House, opposite the Riksdag. But Göran Persson’s successor said he was unsure whether he and his family would move in.

“I’ve only been to Sagerska House once, and that was to eat lunch with a short-lived Finnish prime minister. So I don’t know what the building looks like – and my family knows even less. I’m not really sure where in the process these kinds of practical questions lie,” he said.