Sweden’s Moderates elect ‘pragmatic’ new leader

Sweden's Moderates elect 'pragmatic' new leader
Ulf Kristersson. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT
Sweden’s biggest opposition party the Moderates have a new leader, after Ulf Kristersson was picked to follow Anna Kinberg Batra.

The former Minister for Social Security in the Fredrik Reinfeldt government was confirmed as leader at an extraordinary meeting of party delegates on Sunday. Their economic policy spokesperson in opposition, he was the only candidate chosen by a nominating committee and was unanimously backed for the top job.

He replaces Kinberg Batra, who was leader from January 2015 until she was ousted by her party in August following poor performances in polls. In his first speech as leader, Kristersson promised to be pragmatic in order to solve Sweden’s challenges, calling his approach “values-based pragmatism”.

READ ALSO: Where did it all go wrong for Kinberg Batra?

He wants a deal to be struck between the centre-right Alliance opposition and the governing Social Democrats on housing and migration policy.

At the same time he did not rule out the possibility of governing with the support of anti-immigration Sweden Democrats in the future, saying “many of the voters SD have won is because we have had bad migration policy,” which Kristersson thinks has been too liberal. He did however note that there are no plans for the Moderates to talk or negotiate with the far-right party.

The new boss hopes to stick around longer than his predecessor, saying he is planning for nine years ahead. His first big challenge? Turning around poor results in polls with less than a year until the Swedish general election in September 2018.