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Reinfeldt rejects Sweden Democrat overtures

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07:49 CEST+02:00
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has declined to negotiate with the Sweden Democrats, who may hold the key to the ballot to appoint the next speaker of Sweden's parliament, the Riksdag, on Monday.

The far-right Sweden Democrats have waited to the last to decide whether to back Alliance candidate Per Westerberg, or the Red-Greens' Kent Härstedt for the post of speaker.

The party is due to meet at 9.30am this morning, 90 minutes before the first vote of the new parliament, to decide which way to place their vote, having demanded that former leader Mikael Jansson receive backing for the second deputy speaker post in return for its support.

The party, through parliament group leader Björn Söder, contacted both the Moderates and the Social Democrats by email on Thursday to open negotiations over the vote, but neither party has responded.

"As far as I know we have not received any reply yet," said Erik Almqvist, SD press secretary, to news agency TT on Sunday evening.

But both Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, and Social Democrat leader Mona Sahlin, have made their positions regarding negotiations with the Sweden Democrats clear.

"We have underlined that we are not going to engage in some sort of horse trading," Reinfeldt said regarding the speaker vote, according to the Expressen daily.

"We will never ever, never anywhere, never, ever are we going to render ourselves actively or passively dependent on the Sweden Democrats," said Mona Sahlin in a statement announcing Kent Härstedt as the opposition candidate.

The party has previously said that it is reasonable to expect the largest bloc to nominate the Speaker, but will now make a decision at the morning meeting.

"We will take a position at the group meeting on whether we publish the name directly or if we do so in the chamber," Almqvist said.

Since 1976 the role of speaker has gone to the biggest bloc in the Riksdag, and is currently held by the Moderates' Per Westerberg.

The speaker posts are then usually appointed according to party size, with either the Social Democrats or the Moderates thus set to claim the deputy speaker post. The second deputy speaker post would then go to the Green Party, with the Liberal Party claiming the third deputy speaker post.

Sweden Democrats' leader Jimmie Åkesson has argued that his party, which has 20 parliamentary seats, constitutes a third bloc and has demanded accordingly that the second deputy speaker post should be given to Jansson.

"He has experience of leading a large congregation, has for many years been in public service and has also been a councillor in Gothenburg, the largest municipality in which we have a representative," said press head Mattias Karlsson to the Svenska Dagbladet daily.

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