Sweden’s opposition parties set out on joint bus tour of Sweden

The Moderates, Sweden Democrats, Christian Democrats and Liberals have set out on a bus tour of Swedish nuclear power stations - but they appear to be in disagreement as to whether they're on a "study trip" or a "joint campaign".

Sweden's opposition parties set out on joint bus tour of Sweden
The opposition parties' bus which will be visiting nuclear power stations over the next week. The text reads "New energy for Sweden!" Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

According to the Sweden Democrats, the four parties have set out on a joint campaign, but the Liberals, who weren’t present when the bus departed with members of the Sweden Democrats, the Moderates and the Christian Democrats, choosing instead to join the tour later, are calling it a “study trip”.

Liberal Party press secretary Axel Mårtensen said that that was always the plan, telling TT newswire that the party has not planned any other related activities in advance.

The prospect of the Liberal Party going on tour with the Sweden Democrats has raised eyebrows within the Liberal Party, with leadership branding it a “study trip” and Liberal MP Arman Teimouri stressing the fact that it’s not part of a joint election tour.

The Sweden Democrats seem to have another view on the matter.

“They can define their business how they want,” Mattias Bäckström Johansson, the Sweden Democrats’ energy spokesperson, told TT.

“For us, it’s obvious that when we’ve decorated a bus, have flyers and shared campaign activities planned in advance, then it’s some form of campaign.”

The Sweden Democrats’ official Twitter account tweeted an image of the bus alongside all four parties’ logos, with the text “The winning bus is heading towards an election win! The campaign starts today!”

Christian Democrat spokesperson Camilla Brodin said it was about showing four parties who agree on energy policy, in contrast to the left bloc made up by the Social Democrats, the Left Party, the Centre Party and the Greens.

That’s emphasised with a specially decorated bus with the motto “New Energy for Sweden” across the front and sides.

“We’re visiting nuclear power stations, we’re making other stops as well, as election campaigns are ongoing,” Brodin said. “We’re four parties who want to engage our own members to spread the message that Sweden needs a new government.”

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Sweden’s right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The four parties backing Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister on Sunday announced that they had agreed to keep the current Speaker, Andreas Norlén in place, when the role is put to a vote as parliament opens on Monday.

Sweden's right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The parties won a three-seat majority over the bloc led by the incumbent Social Democrats in Sweden’s general election on September 11th, and are currently in the middle of negotiating how they will form Sweden’s next government. 

Sweden’s parliament meets at 11am for the official installation of the 349 MPs for this mandate period. The votes for the Speaker and three Deputy Speakers are the first item on the agenda, after which the parties each select their parliamentary leaders and then vote on who should chair each of the parliamentary committees. 

READ ALSO: What happens next as parliament reopens? 

In a joint press release announcing the decision, the parties also agreed that the Sweden Democrats would be given eight of the 16 chairmanships the bloc will have of parliamentary committees in the next parliament, and that MPs for all four parties would back Julia Kronlid, the Sweden Democrats’ Second Deputy Leader, as the second deputy Speaker, serving under Norlén. 

In the press release, the parties said that Norlén had over the last four years shown that he has “the necessary personal qualities and qualifications which the role requires”. 

The decision to retain Norlén, who presided over the 134 days of talks and parliamentary votes that led to the January Agreement in 2019, was praised by Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson. 

Norlén, she said in a statement, had “managed his responsibilities well over the past four years and been a good representative of Sweden’s Riksdag.” 

The decision to appoint Kronlid was opposed by both the Left Party and the Green Party, who said that she supported tightening abortion legislation, and did not believe in evolution.

The Green Party’s joint leader Märta Stenevi said that her party “did not have confidence in Julia Kronlid”, pointing to an interview she gave in 2014 when she said she did not believe that humans were descended from apes.

The party has proposed its finance spokesperson Janine Alm Ericson as a rival candidate. 

The Left Party said it was planning to vote for the Centre Party’s candidate for the post second deputy Speaker in the hope of blocking Kronlid as a candidate.