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2022 SWEDISH ELECTION

Swedish Politics: Talks will not be ready by Wednesday 11am deadline: SvD

Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson has not managed to strike a coalition deal with the leaders of the other four parties by today's deadline, meaning he is likely to ask for an extension when he meets the parliament's speaker Andreas Norlén today, according to the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

Swedish Politics: Talks will not be ready by Wednesday 11am deadline: SvD
Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch on her way into the parliament building on Wednesday. Photo: Tim Aro/TT
  • Talks will not be ready by Wednesday deadline: SvD
  • Moderates ‘a little stressed’ ahead of Wednesday talks deadline
  • Right-bloc party leaders held weekend talks at castle
  • Sweden Democrats ‘do not want Liberals in government’ 
  • Sweden’s PM hopeful updates speaker on government talks
  • Left MP who waved PKK flag to chair parliament’s Civil Affairs committee
  • SD Islam critic to chair parliament’s justice committee
  • Moderate leader gets ‘two weeks’ to form next Swedish government
  • King Carl XVI Gustaf formally opens parliament 
  • Right bloc talks ‘going extremely well’: Moderate leader
  • Sweden Democrat candidate appointed deputy speaker on second attempt 
  • Andeas Norlén voted back as Speaker after Parliament reopens 
  • Moderate Party leader tasked with negotiating Sweden’s next government
  • Liberal leader: SD should be kept out of any future government
  • Centre Party leader Annie Lööf resigns 
  • Sweden’s PM Magdalena Andersson hands in resignation to the Speaker 
  • Right-wing bloc wins the election with 176 mandates to left bloc’s 173 
 
Wednesday, October 12th 
 
Talks will not be ready by Wednesday 11am deadline: SvD
 
Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson has not managed to strike a coalition deal with the leaders of the other four parties by Wednesday deadline, meaning he is likely to ask for an extension when he meets the parliament’s speaker Andreas Norlén at 11am, according to the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.
 
The story was confirmed by another source, who told Swedish radio it would be “a miracle” if Kristersson told Norlén he was ready to put his candidacy as prime minister before parliament this week. 
 
Party leaders were tight-lipped ahead of the meeting. 
 
“We are fighting for Sweden,” said Liberal leader Johan Pehrson when he passed journalists in the parliament, while Kristersson would only say “we’ll see you at 11am”.
 
“There have been extremely good and constructive talks throughout all this, and soon we’ll know more,” Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch told SVT.
 
 
Moderate Party “a little stressed” ahead of talks deadline 
 
The Moderate party’s negotiators are “a little stressed” and the party’s leader Ulf Kristersson will today say that the ongoing talks over forming a new government are only “close” to a deal, according to a Liberal Party briefing glimpsed by the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.
 
The note, projected on a screen at a briefing of Liberal Party MPs in the parliament building, indicate that the Moderate Party has not yet been able to overcome the differences between the far-right Sweden Democrats and the Liberal Party over whether the Liberals can join Sweden’s next governing coalition. 
 
Kristersson will meet the parliament’s Speaker Andreas Norlén at 11am on Wednesday to hand over his final report on the month of talks he has led between the Moderates, Christian Democrats, Sweden Democrats and Liberals since the four parties won a slim three-seat majority in a general election on September 11th. 
 
If Kristersson asks for more time, it is up to Norlén whether to give him another week, appoint another party leader to form a government, or instead bring matters to a crunch by calling a parliamentary vote on his candidacy as prime minister. 
 
If the latter happens, a vote could be held on Friday. If either the Liberals or the Sweden Democrats then vote Kristersson down, the process begins again. 
 
The speaker has four shots at putting a prime ministerial candidate to a vote in parliament before a new general election is called. 
 
Tuesday, October 11th
 
Liberals ‘convinced’ they will be in Swedish government
 
Sweden’s Liberal Party has broken the silence surrounding the four-party negotiations over forming Sweden’s next government, with the party’s group leader Mats Persson telling state broadcaster SVT that his party is “convinced” it will be a part of the coalition. 
 
This would mean overcoming the opposition of the Sweden Democrats, which said it does not want the Liberals in the ruling coalition. 
 
“We are convinced that we are going to be included in this government,” Persson said, adding that the party was ready to extend talks past the deadline of this Wednesday if it is necessary for it to achieve this goal. 
 
“We’re in no hurry. The most important thing is that this will be good for Sweden,” he said.
 
According to the Dagens Nyheter newspaper Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Åkesson and Liberal leader Johan Pehrson have in recent days been holding one-on-one talks aimed at negotiating a solution to the deadlock. 
 

Right-bloc party leaders held weekend talks at castle

Party leaders from the four parties pushing to form Sweden’s next government met at Tidö Slott, a historic mansion outside Västerås, over the weekend, where they had been holding crunch talks on the next government coalition.

On Monday evening, three of the four party leaders from the bloc pushing to form Sweden’s next government – Ulf Kristersson (Moderates), Ebba Busch (Christian Democrats) and Johan Pehrson (Liberals) – left Tidö Slott, a historic mansion outside the city of Västerås where they had been holding weekend crunch talks over the shape of the next government coalition.

According to Aftonbladet, Henrik Vinge, group leader of the fourth party in the bloc, the Sweden Democrats, also left the castle on Monday evening.

Kristersson is due to hand in a final report to Speaker Andreas Norlén on Wednesday, on whether he has reached an agreement with the three other party leaders on which parties should form Sweden’s next government, and won their backing for a prime ministerial vote in parliament.

The parliament could then hold a vote on him as prime minister as early as Friday.

Wednesday, October 5th 
The far-right Sweden Democrats are still refusing to back a future government which includes the Liberal Party, a source has told Swedish public broadcaster SR, meaning that 24 days after last month’s parliamentary elections, the right-bloc has yet to reach an agreement on who will be in the coalition. 
According to the source, the Liberals have made clear that they want to have ministerial posts in the new government, with the party’s leader Johan Pehrson thought to want to be Sweden’s education minister. 
But the Sweden Democrats are refusing to back a government which includes the centre-right minority party. 
On Facebook, Kristersson has said that the negotiations continue to be “constructive”, but according to SR’s sources, the atmosphere in the negotiations is becoming increasingly toxic as both the Sweden Democrats and the Liberals refuse to back down on their contradictory demands. 
 
Sweden’s PM hopeful updates speaker on government talks
 
Moderate party leader Ulf Kristersson has visited Andreas Norlén, the Speaker of Sweden’s parliament, to update him on the ongoing four-party talks to form a government.
 
When he visited the Norlén on Wednesday last week, Kristersson was given two weeks to negotiate a government deal with the Sweden Democrat, Christian Democrat, and Liberal parties, meaning that today half of his time is up. 
 
After the meeting on Wednesday morning, the Speaker put out a press release in which he said that the meeting had not given him cause to alter Kristersson’s October 12th deadline to complete his negotiations. 
 
If Kristersson manages to reach a deal then the earliest Sweden’s MPs can vote on whether or not they support him as Prime Minister is October 14th, after which he will be formally given the role in a audience with King Carl XVI Gustaf the following week. 
 
Monday, October 3rd 
 
Left Party MP who waved PKK flag to head parliament’s Civil committee
 
One of the Left Party MPs who this summer waved a flag for the Kurdish PKK terror group has been appointed chair of the Swedish parliament’s Committee on Civil Affairs.
Malcolm Momodou Jallow will chair the committee, giving him power to shape the procedure through which laws on marriage, parental rights, inheritance, commercial, land and enforcement codes, and other issues of civil law are developed. 
 
On Monday, it was also announced that Sweden’s former culture minister Amanda Lind, from the Green Party, will chair the Committee on Cultural Affairs, while her party colleague Emma Nohrén will chair the Committee on Environment and Agriculture. 
The Centre Party MP Ulrika Heie will chair the Committee on Transport and Communications. 
 
Saturday, October 1st 
 
SD Islam critic to chair parliament’s justice committee

Richard Jomshof, one of the staunchest Islam critics within the Sweden Democrats, will chair the parliament’s justice committee, giving him considerable prestige and the power to shape the process through which law and order policy is developed. 

“This is important for us. This is a milestone in the party’s history,” Jomshof, one of the original ‘gang of four’ who modernised the party, told Swedish state broadcaster SR. “My hope is that we will quite quickly get a good cooperation going which will show voters that we are ready to make fundamental changes.”

According to the press release from the party, Aron Emilsson will become chair of the Committee on Foreign Policy, while Tobias Andersson will become Chair of the Committee on Industry and Trade.

Jomshof is most controversial due to his assertion that Islam is “a despicable ideology and religion”.

As soon as he was appointed, he reasserted his position, writing in a tweet, “Islam is worse than Christendom, on all levels”.

Friday, September 30th

Sweden Democrat to chair parliament’s justice committee

The far-right Sweden Democrats have won the right to appoint the chair of the Swedish parliament’s Committee on Justice, given the party a chance to shape the way law and order policy is developed in Sweden over the coming parliamentary term.

While the votes of every member in a parliamentary committees count equally, the chair has influence over the committee’s agenda and over how meetings are directed, with the position also bringing prestige. 

In a joint press release, the Moderates, Sweden Democrats Christian Democrats, Liberal Parties said they had reached agreement on all chair, deputy chair and committee member positions their bloc is entitled to.  

As well as justice, the Sweden Democrats also won the right to appoint the chair of the the Committee on the Labour Market, giving it powers, among other things, to shape plans to tighten labour market migration, the chair of the Committee on Industry and Trade, and, perhaps the most prestigious position, the chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. 

The party won deputy chair positions of the Committee on Civil Affairs, the Committee on Transport and Communications, the Committee on Defence, and the Committee on Taxation. 

The Moderate Party will chair the Committee on Social Insurance, which has control of migration policy, the Committee on Finance, and the Committee on European Union Affairs. 

The Liberal Party will chair the Committee on Education, matching its ambition to be Sweden’s kunskapspartiet, or “party of knowledge”. 

The Christian Democrats will chair the Committee on Health and Welfare. 

Wednesday, September 28th
 
Moderate leader gets ‘two weeks’ to form next Swedish government
 
Ulf Kristersson, Sweden’s likely next PM, has been given two weeks to strike a deal with the Sweden Democrats, Christian Democrats, and Liberal parties over forming a government, after meeting the parliament’s speaker on Wednesday.
 
Kristersson met Andreas Norlén, who was voted back in as Speaker for a second term on Monday, at 11am to give what he called “a fairly detailed” description of how far the negotiations had progressed. 
 
“In summary, it’s a good situation, we have had constructive discussions,” he said. 
 
He said he had proposed a two-week period for further talks, with a meeting with Norlén after a week to report on the week’s progress. Norlén accepted his proposal. 
 
Tuesday September 27th 

King Carl XVI Gustaf formally opens parliament 

Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf formally opened Sweden’s new parliamentary term with a speech in the main chamber, in which he looked back to the first time he opened parliament in 1974. 

“Since then, nearly 50 years have passed. Crises have come and gone bringing palpable stresses, but as a country we have brought ourselves through it all together,” he said. 

“Do your best for Sweden and its citizens,” he told the sitting MPs. I wish all of you who have been elected to represent Sweden’s people, energy, bravery and wisdom for your important work.” 

Monday, September 26th

Right bloc talks ‘going extremely well’: Moderate leader

Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson has said that the negotiations with the Christian Democrat, Sweden Democrat, and Liberal Parties over forming the next government were progressing smoothly with the shape of Sweden’s next government starting to look clear. 

“It’s going very well. We are moving forwards step by step,” he said after Speaker Andreas Norlén announced that he would call him in for an update on the talks on Wednesday.

Kristersson said he now had “a good idea” of how the next government would look, indicating that he may have reached a broad agreement on which political parties will be part of the new government. 

Sweden Democrat candidate appointed deputy speaker on second attempt 
 
On the second vote, Kronlid, who is second deputy leader of the Sweden Democrats, received 174 votes, compared to 47 for her Green Party rival Janine Alm Ericsson. The other MPs laid down their votes. 
 
In the first vote on the post on Monday morning, Kronlid received 173 votes, one short of the required 174, while Ericsson received 49. As no candidate had a majority, the vote had to be held again. 
 
The vote was held by a secret ballot, making it difficult to know which MPs voted against their party line on the first attempt. 
 
The Left Party, Green Party, and several others have in recent days criticised Kronlid, a former aid worker for the Swedish Pentecostal Church’s aid organisation, for her past statements in which she called for stricter abortion laws and questioned the theory of evolution.
 
She has protested that she no longer actively pursues either stricter abortion laws or any changes to the school science curriculum. 
 
Ulf Kristersson given until Wednesday to report back on government talks
 
In a press conference after his reappointment as Speaker, Andreas Norlén said that he was giving Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson until Wednesday to report back on the progress of his talks with the Sweden Democrat, Christian Democrat, and Liberal Parties over forming the next government. 
 
Andeas Norlén voted back as Speaker after Parliament reopens 
 
The former Moderate MP Andeas Norlén was voted back unanimously as Speaker after Sweden’s parliament reopened, with the decision met with a wave of applause.
 
Magdalena Andersson, Sweden’s caretaker prime minister, said that the Social Democrats “welcomed” Norlén’s nomination, while Henrik Vinge, the group leader for the Sweden Democrats praised Norlén for his “engagement, know-how, and integrity”. 
 
The parliament met at 11am for the official installation of the 349 MPs for this mandate period. The votes for the Speaker and three Deputy Speakers were the first item on the agenda.

After that the parties will each select their parliamentary leaders and then vote on who should chair each of the parliamentary committees.

__

Don’t miss the latest episode of our podcast. 

Our guest this week is Le Monde’s Scandinavia correspondent Anne-Francoise Hivert. We discuss:

  • Who is Sweden’s parliamentary speaker Andreas Norlén? 
  • What’s the view abroad on Sweden’s election result? 
  • Why does Sweden allow schools to make profits? 
  • And why do Swedes enjoy picking mushrooms so much? 

All this and more on Sweden in Focus.

__

Sunday, September 25th 
 
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.

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 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.

Friday, September 23rd: 

Sweden’s Social Democrats float idea of voting in a Moderate Speaker

Sweden’s Social Democrats said they would back a Moderate party candidate as the Speaker of the Riksdag parliament, in a move that seemed calculated to complicate the right bloc’s government negotiations. Read story here

Wednesday, September 21st: 
 
Sweden’s right-wing bloc ‘agreed on stricter migration policy’: report
 
The four parties backing Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson to become Sweden’s next Prime Minister have already agreed on stricter migration and crime policies, a source has told the Aftonbladet newspaper as the first trickles of information begin to come out of the ongoing talks between the parties. 
According to the source, who the paper said “had insight into the negotiations to form a new government”, the four parties have also reached agreement on who should be voted in as speaker of the country’s parliament when the role goes up for a vote on Monday.
“We are agreed that we should have a stricter migration policy, and we are also agreed on having longer prison sentences for criminals,” the source added. Read the full story here
 
Sweden’s new immigrant party gets first elected positions

Sweden’s new immigrant party, Nyans, has won council seats in the port city of Landskrona and the Stockholm suburb of Botkyrka, its first elected positions since it was founded in 2019.

Ever since the September 11 election, it has been touch and go whether the party would make it over the two percent threshold to enter the council in the Landskrona, but after the vote count was finally complete on Wednesday morning, the party had gained its first council seat.

“It feels super exciting to get the chance to affect and experience how political work takes place on the city council,” the party’s lead candidate Sead Busuladzic, told Sweden’s public broadcaster SVT.

The party’s founder Mikail Yüksel is expected to take the seat in Botkyrka. Read story here

Monday, September 19th:
 
Moderate Party leader tasked with forming new government 

The speaker of Sweden’s parliament has nominated Ulf Kristersson as his first candidate for prime minister, meaning the Moderate party leader now must strike deal with the far-right Sweden Democrats and other parties to pass a vote in parliament.

Andreas Norlén, Speaker of Sweden’s Parliament, said at a press conference on Monday afternoon that after holding talks with the leaders of all eight of Sweden’s parliamentary parties he had identified Kristersson as the one most likely to be voted in by parliament as Prime Minister. 

“This has been a pretty simple decision to make,” he said. “The information I have received is that the negotiations, as the party leaders have said earlier today, are continuing to be carried out in a good spirit, and that they hope to reach a result.” 

Under Sweden’s system of negative parliamentarianism, a prime ministerial candidate needs only to convince a majority of members of parliament not to vote against them. 

He said that he was not giving Kristersson a deadline to complete the task as he felt that should be the responsibility of his successor as Speaker, who will be chosen by MPs on Monday when the new parliament sits for the first time. 

READ ALSO: Moderate Party leader tasked with negotiating Sweden’s next government

Speaker starts press conference at 2.30pm 
 
Sweden’s parliamentary speaker is starting a press conference to describe the results of his conversations with the leader of Sweden’s eight parliamentary parties at 2.30pm- 
 
Swedish speakers can follow the press conference below or on the parliament’s website here

 
Liberal leader: far-right party should be kept out of future government
 
Johan Pehrson, leader of Sweden’s Liberal Party has reiterated his support for Ulf Kristersson as prime minister and his intention for his party to be part of the ruling coalition, at the same time as stressing that his party did not believe the government should include the far-right Sweden Democrats. 
 
“We in the Liberals have been very clear that we would rather work to find solutions than more barriers, but we have also been clear that do not believe that the Sweden Democrats should be part of the government,” he said, according to Swedish state broadcaster SVT
 
Sweden Democrat leader says preference is still for his party to be in government 

When Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson was interviewed after his meeting with the Speaker, he reiterated that while his goal was for his party to have ministerial posts in the new government, policy issues were the priority.

“For me, personally, and for my party, the policies are what are most important,” he said.

When asked if he aimed for his party to have ministerial posts, and chairmanship positions in the parliament’s committees, he said that his party was calling for both of these things.

“Sweden would be in a better condition with a majority government,” he said on the issue of whether his party should be in the coalition. “

“It would be pretty reasonable if we had them,” he said of has party getting chair positions in parliamentary committees.

Moderate leader meets Speaker in first of talks ahead of PM vote

The Moderate Party’s leader Ulf Kristersson has declared his intention to “build a government for all Swedes”, after holding the first of the day’s meetings with Andreas Norlén, Speaker of the Swedish parliament. 

“My goal is clear,” he said. “I want to build a government for all Swedes. All Swedes who are now worried about different things in our society. I want to build a government that brings people together and doesn’t split them, which unites and does not divide. From a divided country to a united one.” 

He said that he had told the Speaker that his negotiations with the Christian Democrats, Sweden Democrats and the Liberals had been proceeding well since they began on Thursday. 

“My message to the Speaker was that the negotiations are going well,  that they cover all issues, and that they cover everything around the political direction of a new government, that they cover the ability to cooperate in parliament. These are very broad negotiations and nothing is ready until it’s ready.” 

 

READ ALSO: Moderate Party leader: ‘We want a government for all Swedes’

Parliament’s speaker to meet seven party leaders, with press conference at 2.30pm

Andreas Norlén, Speaker of the Swedish parliament, will on Monday meet the leaders of seven of Sweden’s eight parliamentary parties to discuss which candidate for prime minister their parties are likely to support, vote against, or to abstain over, if they were to stand before parliament for a vote. 

He will meet the parties in order of their result in the election: 

10.30 Moderates
10.55 Sweden Democrats
11.20 Centre Party
11.45 Left Party
12.10 Green Party
13.00 Christian Democrats
13.25 Liberals

He will then hold a press conference to discuss the result of the talks at 2.30pm. 

Liberal Party will not be thrown out of EU’s liberal group: chair

Sweden’s Liberal Party will not be ejected from Renew Europe, the grouping of liberal parties within the European Parliament, despite criticism of its decision to join or support a government which requires the support of the far-right Sweden Democrats to take power. 

Antoine Guéry, the MEP from France’s En Marche party who currently chairs the grouping, told Swedish state broadcaster SVT on Monday that the Swedish Liberals’ place was secure. 

“There was a normal discussion in the group after the election on the situation of the Liberals,” he said. “But it was not about whether they should be able to stay in the group.” 

Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper on Saturday reported that some MEPs had questioned whether the party should be allowed to stay part of  Renew Europe. 

Friday, September 16th: 
 
Speaker to hold talks with seven party leader on Monday
 
Andreas Norlén, the Speaker in Sweden’s parliament, will start one-on-one talks with the leaders of seven of Sweden’s parliamentary parties, after which he is expected to nominate Ulf Kristersson, leader of the Moderate Party to try to secure support for a new government. 
Norlén will meet Ulf Kristersson and the leaders of the Sweden Democrats, Christian Democrats, Liberal Party, Green Party, Centre Party, and Left Party. He has already spoken to Magdalena Andersson, leader of the Social Democrats, when she submitted her resignation as Prime Minister on Thursday. 
The Speaker will hold a press conference at 2.30pm to announce his decision to nominate Kristersson. 
 
Moderates: talks with other right-wing parties going “according to plan”
 
Gunnar Strömmer, General Secretary of the Moderate Party, told press waiting outside the party’s headquarters that the party’s leadership committee had met to discuss the election result, and that “constructive talks” were continuing “according to plan” with the three other parties supporting Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister. 
 
“We are continuing to work, it is constructive, and we are taking this task as methodically and calmly as possible.” 
 
Favourite rules himself out as new Centre leader 
 
Emil Källström, the former Centre Party MP many saw as a favourite to succeed Annie Lööf as party leader, has ruled himself out of the process. 
“You’re either a candidate or you are not a candidate and I am not a candidate,” Källström told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper. 
 
Until he stepped down as an MP last August, Källström was the party’s economy spokesperson. In 2015 he was voted number ten in Fokus Magazine’s “most influential young people in Sweden”. 

 
Thursday, September 15th: 
 
Right-wing bloc wins Sweden’s election 
 
The count of late arriving advance and overseas votes was completed at 2pm on Thursday, confirming victory for the four parties backing Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson. The Moderates, Christian Democrats, Sweden Democrats and Liberals have together won 176 seats in Sweden’s parliament, compared to 173 seats for the Social Democrats, Green Party, Centre Party and Left Party. Read our story here
 
The far-right Sweden Democrats were the unquestioned winners in the election, winning 20.5 percent of the vote (up from 17.5 percent), overtaking the Moderates as the country’s second-biggest party and increasing the number of seats they hold in parliament from 62 to 73. 
 
All the other parties in the winning coalition saw their share of the vote fall compared to 2018, losing them parliamentary seats. 
 
The Social Democrats and Green Party gained seven and two seats respectively compared to 2018, but this was not enough to make up for the seats lost by the Centre Party and the Left Party. 
 
Here’s the final result, together with how it changed after the count of late votes on Wednesday: 
 
Social Democrats: 30.3 (-0.2)
Sweden Democrats: 20.5 (-0,1)
Moderates: 19.1
Left Party: 6.7 (+0,1)
Centre Party: 6.7
Christian Democrats: 5,3 (-0.1)
Green Party: 5.1 (+0,1)
Liberal Party 4.6 
 
 
Sweden’s PM Magdalena Andersson hands in resignation to the Speaker 
 
Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson tendered her resignation as Sweden’s Prime Minister to Andreas Norlén, Speaker of the parliament, on Thursday morning. Norlén is now expected to call in the leaders of all eight political parties for talks before appointing one of them — almost certainly Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson — to stand for a vote in parliament to be Prime Minister. 
 
READ ALSO: 

Centre Party leader Annie Lööf resigns

The leader of Sweden’s Centre Party announced on Thursday that she was stepping down as leader of the party she has led since 2011.

Lööf, whose centre-right party broke from its former allies on the right over their support for the far-right Sweden Democrats, said she would stay on as leader until the party had selected a replacement. 

As she resigned, she said she was “standing tall” in the knowledge that she had stuck to her principles and refused to cooperate with the Sweden Democrats. She said she was “convinced that there are other forces which will push back when the limits of decency are being passed”. 

The decision, she said, was partly influenced by the threats and abusive posts online she has faced, partly by the poor election result, partly to spend more time with her young daughters, and partly because, after 11 years in the post, she felt it was time to go. 

READ ALSO: Annie Lööf to step down as Centre Party leader

Sweden Democrats criticised by press freedom group 

The press freedom group, Reporters Without Borders, has sharply criticised the behaviour of the Sweden Democrats party in the run-up to, and aftermath of, Sunday’s election. The group said the way the party had blocked journalists’ access to its election event and threatened the media was “extremely worrying”.

The party’s chief of staff, Linus Bylund, made comments to state broadcaster SVT about “journalist rugby”, or “pushing journalists around”, and later refused to answer any questions from the Aftonbladet tabloid on migration policy.

“It is extremely worrying that a representative of the Swedish Democrats publicly encourages ‘pushing around’ journalists whose work is to hold politicians accountable and report in the public interest,” Erik Halkjaer, president of RSF Sweden said. “Politicians should create favourable conditions for journalism, not undermine them,” he said.

See the Reporters Without Borders article here

Wednesday, September 14th: 

Liberal MP pledges to block any government that includes Sweden Democrats 

Romina Pourmokhtari, head of the Liberal Party’s youth party, and one of this year’s new MPs, has promised to vote down any government which includes the far-right Sweden Democrats. 

“We took this decision at our national congress,” she wrote.  “I stood for this election to protect human rights and the freedom of individuals. That’s where we Liberals are going to have to put our energy in the coming years.

Sweden Democrat possible speaker of parliament 

Björn Söder, the Sweden Democrat politician who served as Deputy Speaker of Parliament between September 2014 and September 2018, is a possible favourite to replace Andreas Norlén in the role, the Aftonbladet newspaper has claimed, based on the former principle that the largest party in a government coalition should be able to appoint the Speaker. 

The Sweden Democrats are also, as the largest party in parliament, likely to take over the Moderate Party’s parliamentary quarters in the spacious Skandia house, and also to take over the use of the second chamber in the old parliamentary building as the party’s group meeting room. 

Monday September 12th: 

Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson holds ‘constructive’ talks with support parties

The Moderate Party’s leader Ulf Kristersson met Sweden Democrat leader Ulf Kristersson for lunch on Monday, and held meetings with Ebba Busch, leader of the Christian Democrats, and Johan Pehrson, leader of the Liberal Party, later that afternoon. 

“These conversations have been carried out in an extremely constructive spirit,” the Moderate Party’s General Secretary, Gunnar Strömmer, said. 

Linus Bylund, chief of staff of the Sweden Democrats, refused to give any commentary on the meeting, saying only that, while he himself intended to go home and eat isterband, a suet and grain sausage popular in southern Sweden, his leader Jimmie Åkesson, was definitely not eating isterband.

 

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CRIME

EXPLAINED: What Sweden’s controversial new espionage law means

Sweden's new law against foreign espionage will alter passages in Sweden's constitutional laws governing freedom of the press and freedom of expression. The Local spoke to Mikael Ruotsi, senior lecturer in constitutional law at Uppsala University, about the new law.

EXPLAINED: What Sweden’s controversial new espionage law means

What was wrong with the previous law?

Sweden’s previous espionage law only covered Sweden’s national security, while the new law expands this to cover information that could harm Sweden’s relations with other countries or international organisations. Ruotsi said that Sweden’s last government, together with the then opposition parties, had felt that Sweden’s current spy law was too narrowly drawn, and also was less extensive than those of many of the country’s international partners.  

“What it aims to do is to encompass situations, for instance, where Swedish Armed Forces are working within UN peacekeeping operations, and classified information is divulged, which might harm the peacekeeping operation or other participating countries’ national interests, but not Swedish national interest,” Ruotsi said.

READ ALSO:

Under Sweden’s existing laws, leaking information in this sort of scenario might be considered “divulging classified information”, but that he said is only a relatively minor crime.

Under the new law, it will become a more serious offence, with a maximum prison sentence of eight years for “aggravated foreign espionage” and four years for “foreign espionage”. 

Ruotsi said that the law had been in preparation for six to seven years and had nothing to do with either Sweden joining Nato, or with the decision by the Swedish diplomat Anders Kompass to blow the whistle in 2014 about a report into child sexual abuse carried out by French Peacekeepers in the Central African Republic between December 2013 and July 2014. 

Kompass was then field operations director at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and is now ambassador to Guatemala. 

“We can be fairly sure that this has nothing to do with the Anders Kompass situation,” Ruotsi said “I think it’s more of a reaction to Sweden being more involved at the international level in UN missions and things like that, and that there is increased international involvement with the Swedish Armed Forces.” 

How does the new law change the constitution?

Rather than a single written constitution, Sweden has four constitutional laws. The new law changes two of them: the Freedom of the Press Act and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression, so that sharing secret information that damages Sweden’s relations with another country is illegal.

In order to criminalise an act of speech – for example, divulging national security secrets – that change in the criminal law needs to be mirrored in a change to the constitutional Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression. 

Similarly, in order to criminalise the disclosure of information obtained through espionage, changes need to be made to the constitutional Freedom of the Press Act. 

“They are basically just mirrors of the criminal code, so if you want to make something criminal to say in a newspaper or on TV, then you have to criminalise it both in the criminal act and in those two constitutional media laws,” Ruotsi explains.

Is it concerning that the constitution is being changed?

Ruotsi said that because changing the Swedish constitutional laws requires a vote either side of an election, the four constitutional laws tend to undergo significant changes after every general election.

“They have a specific, very detailed nature, and they need to be kept up to date,” he said of Sweden’s constitutional law. “So there are changes every four years, but it’s not very common that you introduce a new crime or a new criminal sanction.”

Are there any good reasons to be worried about the new law?

One concern around the changes to the constitution is that they may make sources less willing to speak to the media or to pass information about critical matters on to journalists.

While the preparatory work for the new law does include provisions for the sharing of information that is of value to the public, for sources with sensitive information about Sweden’s dealings with other countries, the fear of what Ruotsi calls “criminal sanctions” may compromise their willingness to speak with journalists and with the press.

The law includes what Ruotsi calls a “public interest override” that states that publications or leaks that are “defensible” should not be prosecuted under the law. 

Even though he concedes this is “phrased a lot more vaguely” in the Swedish law than it could be, he argues that the preparatory work for the law makes it clear that this is intended to protect whistleblowers and investigative journalism.

“If you look at the preparatory works, it’s quite clear that they mean to exclude from criminal responsibility things that are of value to the public and in particular the media,” he said. 

“It’s somewhat unclear how this new law will be interpreted, but it’s obvious that the purpose of the law is not to criminalise the Anders Kompass situation, it’s to make sure that if we have Swedish military personnel or other civil servants working abroad on international missions and they turn out to be spies, that we can sanction them. That’s the main idea.”

By Shandana Mufti and Richard Orange

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