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Swedish parliament votes in first far-right backed PM in its history

Sweden's parliament has voted in the Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson as Prime Minister, meaning that for the first time, a government is taking power with the formal support of the far right.

Swedish parliament votes in first far-right backed PM in its history
Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson basks in applause after being voted in as Sweden's new Prime Minister by the country's parliament. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Every MP from the four parties backing Kristersson as candidate for prime minister voted for him, meaning he received 176 votes in favour, and 173 against. 

The Moderate leader will outlay his government’s programme in a speech at 9am on Tuesday morning, after which he and the new ministers from the three coalition parties — the Moderates, Christian Democrats and Liberals — will visit King Carl XVI Gustaf to be formally instated as the new government.   

“This feels huge, I am grateful,” Kristersson said at a press conference after the vote. “I’m happy for the confidence I have received from the parliament, and I am humble in the face of the tasks which lie ahead.” 

READ ALSO: 

The four parties presented a 62-page roadmap for their cooperation on Friday which called for major crackdowns on crime and immigration and the construction of new nuclear reactors, among other things.

At the press conference, Kristersson downplayed the criticisms made of the agreement by several senior Liberal Party politicians, saying that he had never been worried that any of the party’s MPs were going to rebel against the party line and vote against him as a candidate.

“I meet many, many, many more Liberals who are happy,” he said of the deal. He also dismissed calls made by the Liberals in Stockholm for the agreement to be amended. 

In a speech in parliament ahead of the vote, Jimmie Åkesson leader of the far-right Sweden Democrats, argued that the four-party bloc had a mandate from the people to deliver the hardline programme outlined in the Tidö Agreement announced on Friday. 

“It is not we, ourselves, who are giving influence to the parties, it is the voters,” he said. “They spoke and voted for the parties they believe have the best cures to the problems [faced by Sweden]. And it is according to this result, that the parties can impose their policies.”

The Sweden Democrats were the big winner in Sweden’s September 11 general election, emerging as the 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.

Åkesson in parliament hailed a “new start for Sweden”, saying that the mismanagement of the country by governments of both left and right had been “palpable”, with all citizens suffering the consequences. 

The leaders of the Left, Centre, and Green Parties all levelled harsh criticism at the content of the four-party deal in their speeches, while also attacking the three coalition parties for their decision to form a government with the backing of the Sweden Democrats. 

 
Centre Party leader Annie Lööf said that the deal represented a “paradigm shift” for Sweden, echoing language used by Åkesson on Friday.
 
“Never before has a xenophobic, nationalist party been given the keys to the Government Offices,” she said, condemning the agreement as a “liberal crash-landing”.

“I am grief-stricken that my former Alliance colleagues will now carry out the Sweden Democrats’ party programme,” she said. 

The Social Democrats’ group leader Lena Hallengren warned in her speech that the coming government would “to a large extent be controlled by the Sweden Democrats”. “It will be a weak and brittle government,” she said. 

Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar struck a personal note. 

“My parents fled to Sweden from the Iran of the mullahs,” she said.  They would never have believed that Sweden would go in an authoritarian direction.” 

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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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