Opposition hits back at Swedish PM: ‘Alliance is still the biggest’

The leader of Sweden’s centre-right Moderate party pledged once again to oust the country’s prime minister Stefan Löfven after the final result of last week's election was confirmed on Sunday.

Opposition hits back at Swedish PM: 'Alliance is still the biggest'
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson during an election debate on Sweden's state broadcaster SVT. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT
“If Stefan Löfven and the government do not resign voluntarily we are going to vote for them to be unseated once the parliament returns,” Ulf Kristersson said in a written comment sent to the TT newswire. 
He questioned Löfven’s claim to lead the bloc with the “greatest support in parliament”. 
“The final result if now complete, and the Alliance continues to be the biggest potential government, significantly larger than the current government,” he said. “If Stefan Löfven wants to try and build a government out of his ‘bloc’, together with the Left Party and the Green Party, he should say it in black and white.” 
The final vote count left the allocation of seats unchanged, with 144 seats shared by the Social Democrats, Green Party and Left Party, 143 going to the four centre-right Alliance parties, and 62 seats to the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats. 
This means both sides are well short of the 175 seats needed to have a majority. 
Löfven was the first to comment once the final tally was announced, arguing that as the largest party leading the largest parliamentary grouping, the Social Democrats should lead Sweden's next government. 
“The final election result shows that we Social Democrats are clearly the largest party and have the biggest support for a government if the right-wing parties do not break their promise and create a common bloc with the Sweden Democrats,” he said. 
There was, he reiterated, only one “constructive solution for the good of the country: to break with bloc politics”.
“Now all upstanding parties must take their responsibility to push Sweden forward,” he said. “In this process, no one is going to manage to achieve their party's policy program in its entirety. But through cooperation we can do so much more for our country.” 
While the four centre-right parties ruled Sweden as a tightly coordinated bloc between 2006 and 2014, the Social Democrats have never entered into coalition with the Left Party, and have only gone into coalition with the Green Party once, from 2014-2018.
Aron Etzler, the party secretary for the Left Party on Sunday said his party would be willing to take part in a Social Democrat-led government. 
“We are open to taking part in a government and for negotiating over the budget,” he told the Aftonbladet newspaper. “Without the success of the Left Party, Stefan Löfven would be in no position to make a claim to be prime minister.” 
Kristersson has been pushing Löfven to resign as prime minister since the night of the election last Sunday. 
On Wednesday, the four Alliance parties invited the Social Democrats to join them in talks over a deal across the political centre.
The aim was form a government which did not require the support of the Sweden Democrats, a party which the leaders of Sweden’s other political parties has said they will not negotiate or do deals with . 
“The Alliance is offering the Social Democrats the possibility of playing a new, constructive role,” Centre Party leader Annie Lööf told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper after the Alliance leaders’ joint article was published. 
Löfven immediately rebuffed the office. 
“The Social Democrats are being offered the chance of being a support party for the right-wing bloc,” he said. “That is a thought that should be completely dismissed.” 
Sweden's parliament is set to open on September 25th. 

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Four budget proposals from Sweden opposition

Sweden's right-wing Alliance quartet announced on Wednesday that it was going to present four separate budget alternatives in response to the government's proposal. But the parties denied they had abandoned plans to campaign together ahead of the election in 2018.

Four budget proposals from Sweden opposition
The Moderates' Anna Kinberg Batra, Annie Lööf of the Centre Party, the Christian Democrats' outgoing leader Göran Hägglund and Liberal Party leader Jan Björklund. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

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“Our own budget motions will apply in 2015,” wrote the Alliance's party secretary in a press release. But the four party leaders emphasized in an opinion piece for newspaper Dagens Nyheter on Wednesday that they will also “show that [they] stand for common values” and said they will campaign on a common manifesto in the next election, three-and-a-half years from now.

The announcement spells a shift from last autumn, when the Alliance's common opposition budget got more votes than the ruling centre-left coalition's proposal, because it was also backed by the nationalist Sweden Democrats, who hold the balance of power in parliament.

The incident sparked a government crisis in Sweden, which prompted Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to threaten to call a snap election. But the plans were abandoned at the eleventh hour after Löfven's Social Democrats and the opposition managed to agree on a deal in the so called 'December Agreement'.

The deal, which is set to last until 2022, means that the Alliance will not vote for its own alternative budget in the future, if this threatens the elected government's budget from getting passed. But the government also agreed not to present changes too radically different to last autumn's victorious budget in their spring budget this April.

Wednesday's announcement comes after Moderate Party leader Anna Kinberg Batra demanded that the government promises to “honour” the December Agreement, and political scientist Jonas Hinnfors called the move a “strategic decision”.

“If she knows that there will be separate budget proposals she can be bolder in criticizing the government, because they will then follow the usual budget practice we have had since the 1990s and in the end the Moderates can vote for their own proposals to the last breath,” Hinnfors, of Gothenburg University, told Swedish news wire TT.

The government is set to formally present its spring budget by April 15th. On Tuesday Löfven, flanked by Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson and coalition partners, the Green Party leaders Åsa Romson and Gustav Fridolin, announced plans to invest billions of kronor into a massive railway upgrade in the coming years, starting with 620 million kronor ($72m) in 2015.

Sweden's right-wing Alliance – the Moderate Party, the Centre Party, the Liberal Party and the Christian Democrats – was formed by former Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt ahead of the 2006 election. It was defeated by the Social Democrat-Green Party coalition in September 2014.