Centre-right Alliance declines offer of ‘cross-bloc’ parliamentary speaker

Centre-right Alliance declines offer of 'cross-bloc' parliamentary speaker
Anders Ygeman, the Social Democrats' parliamentary group leader, and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT
Sweden's Social Democrats have called for discussion on presenting a 'cross-bloc' candidate for parliamentary speaker, but the centre-right parties show no sign of accepting the offer.

“We are reaching out a hand and saying that we can find a way to collaborate and solve this,” said Prime Minister Stefan Löfven after announcing his party would not be putting forward its own candidate.

“If we can't come to agreements between the blocs, in practice it will be the Sweden Democrats who decide,” said Anders Ygeman, the Social Democrats' parliamentary group leader, referring to the far-right party which gained 17.6 percent of the vote. The two main blocs were both on around 40 percent of the vote, meaning they will need passive backing from other parties to form a workable government.

Löfven and Ygeman made the suggestion after the party's new parliamentary group had its first meeting on Tuesday. The vote for a new speaker will take place on Monday, an event Löfven said would be the first test for cross-bloc collaboration.

Usually, the speaker is a member of Sweden's largest political party or bloc, meaning that after the September 9th election, a Social Democrat candidate would have been expected. The role is a key one, as it is the speaker who puts a proposal for the new prime minister to parliament.

After an election which reduced the centre-left bloc's lead to just one seat, it's unclear what Sweden's next government will look like, and cross-bloc collaboration will be crucial.

However, the centre-right Alliance parties were not positive about the idea of a jointly proposed speaker.

“This isn't a new suggestion from the Social Democrats. The Alliance has been clear the whole time that we present a mutual candidate for speaker,” said the Moderate Party's group leader, Tobias Billström, in a written statement.

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