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Sweden’s winning right-bloc agrees to form government with far-right backing

Three Swedish right-wing parties have agreed to form a minority government with the unprecedented support of the far-right Sweden Democrats, immediately announcing plans to crack down on crime and immigration and build new nuclear power stations.

Sweden's winning right-bloc agrees to form government with far-right backing
Sweden Democrats Jimmie Akesson, Leader of the Moderate party Ulf Kristersson, Leader of the Christian Democrats Ebba Busch and Leader of the Liberal party Johan Pehrson address a press conference on the formation of a coalition government at the Parliament press office in Stockholm. Photo: Jonathan Nackstränd/ AFP

The incoming government will be made up of the Moderates, Christian Democrats and Liberals, with the far-right Sweden Democrats remaining outside the coalition but providing key support in parliament.

The four presented a roadmap Friday for their cooperation, outlining measures to address rising crime, immigration, energy policy, healthcare, education and the economy.

“Change is not just necessary, but possible, and the four of us can deliver that”, conservative Moderates leader Ulf Kristesson told reporters.

Parliament will vote on Kristersson as the new prime minister on Monday and the future government is expected to take office on Tuesday, just over a month after the right-wing won a narrow victory in a general election that ousted the Social Democrats after eight years in power.

The four right-wing parties together hold 176 of 349 seats in parliament. The anti-immigration and nationalist Sweden Democrats, once shunned as pariahs on Sweden’s political scene, were the big winners of the September 11 vote.

They emerged as the country’s second-largest party with a record 20.5 percent of votes, behind outgoing prime minister Magdalena Andersson’s Social Democrats, which have dominated Swedish politics since the 1930s.

KEY POINTS: What do we know about Sweden’s new government coalition deal?

Swedish Politics: Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson wins backing to be next PM

While far-right leader Jimmie Åkesson said he “would have preferred to sit in government”, he stressed that most important was that his party, as the biggest right-wing party, have influence over policy.

“We are going to deliver policy, especially in those areas our voters think are extra important, and crime policy is one such area”, he told reporters.

While the quartet presented a united front on Friday, they have traditionally been divided on a number of key policy areas and major concessions were made in the agreement, primarily to meet the far-right’s demands.

Sweden has struggled to contain soaring gang shootings and violence, and the roadmap calls for an introduction of visitation zones in some disadvantaged areas, harsher sentences for repeat offenders, double sentences for certain crimes and anonymous witnesses — all major concessions by the small Liberal party.

The incoming government also plans to make major cuts in Sweden’s generous refugee policy, reducing the number of quota refugees from 6,400 last year to 900 per year during its four-year mandate.

It will also ditch Sweden’s development aid target of one percent of gross national income and introduce a national ban on begging.

The four parties also agreed to not reduce unemployment benefits, a major concession to the far-right by the Moderates.

“What has been most important to the Sweden Democrats is that the change of government represent a paradigm shift”, Åkesson said.

Meanwhile, the future government also announced plans to build new nuclear reactors to meet the country’s rising electricity needs.

“New nuclear reactors will be built”, the leader of the Christian Democrats Ebba Busch told reporters. “We are going to meet our end of the Paris Agreement, but without destroying companies’ and Swedish households’ finances. The goal going forward is electrification and the way there is nuclear power”, she said.

The Scandinavian country voted in a 1980 non-binding referendum to phase out nuclear power.

The country has in recent years shut down six of its 12 reactors and the remaining ones, at three nuclear power plants, generate about 30 percent of the electricity used in the country today.

But it has struggled to find viable alternative energy sources to replace nuclear power, with renewable energies not yet able to fully meet its needs.

The outgoing Social Democratic government, in power for the past eight years, has traditionally been opposed to the construction of new reactors but acknowledged earlier this year that nuclear energy would be crucial for the foreseeable future.

Swedish energy group Vattenfall said therefore in June it was examining the possibility of building at least two small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs).

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POLITICS

Swedish PM’s top aide resigns over illegal eel fishing

One of Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson's top aides has resigned from his post after it emerged that he had been fined by police for illegally fishing for eels and had twice lied to the authorities about what happened.

Swedish PM's top aide resigns over illegal eel fishing

PM Nilsson lied twice to police about eel fishing equipment he was caught with, the second time after he was appointed as state secretary at the end of October. 

After the resignation, Kristersson said he was disappointed that Nilsson, who had previously been a columnist for the Dagens Industri newspaper, had had to step down. 

“I think of course that it is unfortunate that this situation has come about, but I understand his decision,” he said in a written comment to the TT newswire. “PM Nilsson has been a highly appreciated member of the team and is a highly competent person. We are going to miss him.” 

READ ALSO: Why a political aide’s eel denial is causing friction in Sweden

Nilsson announced his decision on Facebook, saying that he had already apologised and paid the fines. 

“I understand how improper it is to fish for eels without a permit and to not tell things as they were to the authorities, even if I have since then rung the police and admitted that I had caught 15 fish,” he wrote in the post. 

Nilsson was recently fined for poaching eel in 2021, and has admitted to having lied to police in a conversation just before Christmas when he claimed that the eel-fishing equipment he had been caught with was not his. He later regretted this decision and informed the police.  

In his Facebook post, Nilsson referred to media reports that police were now investigating him for a further crime of contravening a law to protect endangered species, saying he did not know if this were the case. 

The opposition Social Democrats on Monday referred Ulf Kristersson to the parliament’s Committee on the Constitution, requiring him to explain the situation around Nilsson, and about whether Kristersson knew of the poaching incident when he appointed him, and also on the security vetting which took place. 

“We need to get clarity about how the process of recruiting him took place,” Ardalan Shekarabi, the party’s justice spokesman, said. “What we are chiefly reacting against is that the state secretary lied to the authorities.”

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