‘Our party will stand alone’: Stefan Löfven

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has announced that the Social Democrats will not be entering the March elections together with the Green Party - and will be campaigning alone.

'Our party will stand alone': Stefan Löfven
Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT
"We will go into these elections as two separate parties. We have built the government with them and we agreed on a budget that I was very proud of," Löfven told reporters on Friday.
"We are open to cooperation – more cooperation – both us and the Greens, and we've said this the whole time."
He added that he has never changed his stance on this issue. Gustav Fridolin, one of the leaders of the Green Party, agreed that there was nothing dramatic in the announcement. 
"I think the last few days on the Swedish political scene have been dramatic enough without us needing to over-dramatize this," he told reporters in Brussels. 
The move, however, can be regarded as the Social Democrats taking "a step away" from the Greens, said political scientist Nicholas Aylott from Södertörn University in Stockholm.
"They were in government together for such a short time, they had their own budget, they said they would campaign on it, but they seem to have changed their minds," he told The Local. 
He said that there were two possible reasons why the party would want to distance itself from its coalition partner. 
"Firstly, it could be a gesture to get the trade unions on board. The head of the LO trade union said recently that he thought the party must do exactly this. LO and the Social Democrats have extremely intimate ties both historically and currently, and it will be difficult for the Social Democrats to mobilize support without help from the unions," he explained. 
"Secondly, and more generally in a political sense, there's been an awful lot of speculation about how forging a coalition with the Greens was a big mistake for the Social Democrats. Everyone should have known this really, but it turned out the Greens' policy preferences were difficult for the Social Democrats to accept, and they also complicated the chances of making any deals with the Alliance."
"The Social Democrats and the Greens are almost doomed to collaborate, but for the moment, I think it probably suits the Social Democrats to put a bit of distance between themselves and the Greens," he said. 

Sweden's Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Friday that she was hoping to expand the Social Democrats range of inter-party cooperation. 
"We've had a very constructive cooperation with the Green Party," she told the TT news agency. "But I'd really like to see cooperation with several parties, in one way or another."
Swedes will go to the polls again in late March after Löfven announced the re-election last week. He insisted that he was not to blame for the move, rather that other parties were not cooperating to get his coalition's budget accepted. 

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Koran burnings by Danish far-Right extremist no longer causing riots, Swedish police say

Swedish police said there have been no disturbances associated with the Koran burning by Danish far-Right extremist Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs ("Hard Line") this week around Stockholm, unlike the riots seen over Easter.

Koran burnings by Danish far-Right extremist no longer causing riots, Swedish police say

Paludan and his party have been holding demonstrations this week involving burning the Koran, in what Paludan describes as an “election tour” ahead of standing in Sweden’s parliamentary election in September.

However Swedish newswire TT has reported that few people have seemed to care about the shock tactics used and police have confirmed that no major disturbances have occurred as a result of the demonstrations.

This is in stark contrast to the demonstrations over Easter, which resulted in riots involving vandalism and violence aimed primarily at police. A total of 26 police officers were injured and at least 40 people were arrested.

“The police did not anticipate the extent of the protests and the enormous violence that the Easter riots brought with them. I don’t know if we have seen anything similar in Sweden in modern times,” Sten Widmalm, political scientist at Uppsala University, told newswire TT.

Widmalm says there are now fewer people turning up at Paludan’s demonstrations because of the number of people charged over the Easter riots. He also noted the increased police presence and adapted resources by the police, which has stopped anyone getting close to using violence.

Everyone that TT newswire spoke to a demonstration in Fittja torg, said they knew Paludan’s aim was to provoke people.

“I am a Muslim myself and I don’t care. For a true Muslim, all religions are equal. His message is to create conflict and irritation. You shouldn’t give him that,” Himmet Kaya told TT. 

According to Widmalm, there is nothing to indicate that Paludan will be successful at the Swedish election.

“On the other hand, I think that Stram Kurs has influenced Swedish politics very much in such a way that it has exposed large gaps in society. I think awareness of these has increased, due to the Easter riots – although it’s nothing to thank Paludan for.”

In Sweden, you must be a Swedish citizen in order to be elected to parliament. Paludan’s father is Swedish, and he applied for and was granted Swedish citizenship in 2020.

In order to enter the Swedish parliament, Paludan must win at least four percent of the vote in the upcoming election.

In 2019, Paludan stood in Danish parliamentary elections, achieving only 1.8 percent of the vote. Under Denmark’s proportional representation system, parties must achieve at least two percent of the vote in order to enter the Danish parliament.