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POLITICS

Sweden approves new nuclear reactors

Sweden's parliament on Thursday narrowly passed a landmark government proposal allowing the replacement of nuclear reactors at the end of their life span.

The centre-right government announced in February 2009 that it was reversing a decision to phase out nuclear power as part of an ambitious new climate programme.

The country had voted in a 1980 non-binding referendum to phase out its 12 reactors by 2010, a target which was later abandoned by officials.

Since 1999, two of the reactors have been closed. The 10 remaining reactors, at three power stations, account for about half of Sweden’s electricity production.

The plan voted on Thursday entails that new reactors can be built at the same site as today’s three existing plants when they wind down, but no new sites will be approved and the number of reactors in the Scandinavian country will not be permitted to exceed 10.

Parliament ruled that the Swedish state would not be allowed to subsidise the construction of nuclear power initiatives, and also voted to hand reactor owners unlimited damage liability in the case of an accident.

The nuclear reactor replacement plan, which is set to take effect on January 1st 2011, was backed by the four coalition government parties, including the Centre Party which traditionally has been opposed to nuclear power.

However, there was heated debate in the house ahead of the vote and at least two Centre Party members of parliament have said they would” follow the voice of conscience” and vote against the measure.

The three main left-leaning opposition parties were set to vote against the proposal, with Green Party spokeswoman Maria Wetterstrand scolding the Centre Party for siding with its coalition partners.

Voting in favour of the proposal, she said, “could mean Sweden will be making itself dependent on nuclear power for 100 more years and there will be 100,000 years of consequences for future generations who will have to take care of the waste,” she said during the parliamentary debate.

Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren, of the Centre Party, meanwhile defended the government’s energy proposal.

“It is a myth that nuclear power is forcing out renewable energies. (Renewables) have won the game. Why then exclude nuclear from the plan?” he asked.

Carlgren also stressed voters would be able to express themselves on the new energy plan, which is set to take effect at the beginning of next year, in the upcoming September 19th elections.

If the three-party opposition manages to climb to power, it is expected to try to reverse Thursday’s ruling.

The nuclear plan is part of the government’s climate programme, which stipulates that by 2020 renewable energy should comprise 50 percent of all energy produced, for the Swedish car fleet to be independent of fossil fuels 10 years later and for the country to be carbon neutral by 2050.

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2022 SWEDISH ELECTION

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.

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