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POLITICS

Swedish opposition leader: ‘Why I’m prepared to work with the Sweden Democrats’

The de facto leader of Sweden's right-wing opposition, who three years ago vowed never to work with the Sweden Democrats, has said the anti-immigration party has become more 'serious' in its politics.

Swedish opposition leader: 'Why I'm prepared to work with the Sweden Democrats'
Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson speaking with the Christian Democrats' Ebba Busch, while the Sweden Democrats' Jimmie Åkesson looks on in the background. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Speaking on public broadcaster SVT's programme 30 minuter, the leader of the conservative Moderates, Ulf Kristersson, said: “I think the Sweden Democrats' rhetoric has changed a lot over recent years. They have branched out politically and take part much more seriously in parliamentary work.”

In particular, he said they had been “constructive” during work on the pandemic, law and order, migration and some aspects of energy politics. 

Kristersson said his party currently has no intention to form a coalition with the Sweden Democrats. But it's the latest step in warming relations towards the far-right party, after the two parties' leaders had their first meeting last year.

It stands in contrast with statements he made previously on the idea of collaboration with the anti-immigration party. As recently as January 2018, Kristersson said: “My values are not the Sweden Democrats'. I will not work together with them, speak with them, govern with them.”

In the 2018 election, neither of the two main blocs (one including the Moderates and three other right-of-centre parties, the other including the governing centre-left coalition) won enough votes to govern alone. In order for either coalition to govern, they needed other parties to either support them in a parliamentary vote or at least offer passive support by abstaining. 

This led to a split in the centre-right coalition, after the Moderates and the Christian Democrats were prepared to accept passive support from the Sweden Democrats. Their two coalition partners, the Centre and Liberal parties were not willing to be part of a government relying on the Sweden Democrats, so instead offered passive support to the centre-left coalition which is now in power.

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ECONOMY

Swedish parliament approves government’s budget

The government's budget and controversial pensions agreement has been passed by parliament after an independent MP, who held the deciding vote, chose to support it at the last minute.

Swedish parliament approves government's budget

The budget passed by 174 to 173 votes.

As a result, guaranteed pensions for pensioners on low or no incomes will increase by up to 800 kronor a month after tax from August.

Formally, a majority of MP’s voted no to the right-wing opposition’s budget, proposed by the Moderates, the Christian Democrats, the Liberals and the Sweden Democrats, meaning that the budget proposed by the government with the support of the Green Party, the Left Party and the Centre Party was approved.

If the vote had been even on both sides, it could have been decided by drawing lots, giving each budget a 50 percent chance of being passed.

Finance Minister Mikael Damberg thanked the parties supporting the government’s budget in a press conference following the vote.

“I want to thank the parties who contributed to this: the Centre Party, the Left Party and the Green Party,” he said. “In total, a million pensioners will be affected by this proposal as soon as this autumn.”

“It’s a necessary reform which is about equality. After a life spent working in Sweden, everyone has the right to economic security in their old age.”

In an interview with public service broadcaster SVT Nyheter after the vote, leader of the conservative Moderate party, Ulf Kristersson criticised the new budget, stating that pensioners would have been better off under the opposition’s proposal.

“It harms confidence in Swedish economic policy and it’s bad for the pensioners who would have had a better pension under our proposal,” he told SVT.

“It shouldn’t ever go to drawing lots,” he told SVT, “this has been a rather telling end to a term of office which has been completely unsustainable.”

“We need governments who can govern, with a governing foundation and well-thought-out economic policy.”

On the other side of the political divide, Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar was happy to see the government’s budget passed, despite the fact that the so-called Nooshi-supplement to pensions which she had lobbied for was not included in the final pension proposal.

“It’s a long time since I was this happy,” she told SVT. “We wanted a raise in the guarantee pension from the beginning – we haven’t raised the guarantee pension by this much in over 25 years.”

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