Speaker to announce next steps in Swedish government talks

Speaker to announce next steps in Swedish government talks
Speaker Andreas Norlén, left, ahead of a meeting with Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
Sweden's parliamentary speaker is to announce today what the next move is in efforts to build Sweden's next government – almost two months after its election left the country divided.

After the September 9th election left neither of the two main blocs with a clear majority and both incumbent Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and Moderates leader Ulf Kristersson failed to form a new coalition, parliamentary speaker Andreas Norlén sat down for group talks with the party leaders.

It is not known whether or not the talks have yielded fruit, but Norlén is now set to outline ”the next steps in the process of government formation” at a press conference at 9.30am on Monday.

The group talks mainly centered around four possible coalition alternatives:

1. A so-called 'grand coalition' of the left and right wing: the Social Democrats and Green Party, and the centre-right 'Alliance' coalition Moderates, Centre Party, Liberals and Christian Democrats.

2. A coalition of the Social Democrats, Greens, Centre Party and Liberals. The parties have similar positions on the GAL-TAN scale where they are all placed in the Green-Alternative-Libertarian bracket rather than Traditional-Authoritarian-Nationalist. However, when it comes to what is seen as traditional left-right values such as market economy, the parties' policies differ markedly.

3. A coalition of the four-party Alliance and the Green Party. The Green Party has recently said it wants to work with the centre-left, but have in previous years been able to straddle the divide.

4. A centre-right coalition consisting only of the Alliance parties.

The Left Party and the Sweden Democrats did not take part in the group talks, since no other parties had suggested governing in coalition with them. However, Norlén held individual talks with the leaders of these two parties, which could play a decisive role in backing the next government.

It is not essential for a majority in parliament to support a government proposal, but it will fail if a majority vote against it. If they cannot agree, a new election shall be held within three months. However, this has never happened because parliament has always approved the first proposal.

The speaker has a total of four chances to ask a candidate to try to form a government that will be accepted by parliament – and all four chances still remain, since parliament has not yet voted on any proposal. In theory, there is no deadline for the speaker to put a proposal to parliament, although more and more voices have been calling for him to do so to try to break the deadlock.

One looming obstacle on the horizon is Sweden's 2019 budget, a proposal for which must be put forward to parliament by November 15th. The country is currently run by the outgoing government in a caretaker role. Such a government has almost the same powers as a normal government, but is not meant to make any partisan decisions – which would normally include those part of budget proposal.

Löfven has previously said that the finance ministry has started working on a politically neutral budget proposal, if his government has no choice but to put one to a vote in parliament.

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