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POLITICS

Sweden Democrats lose power in their flagship municipality

The far-right Sweden Democrats have unexpectedly lost control of the municipality in Sölvesborg, the hometown of party leader Jimmie Åkesson, after their Moderate allies switched sides.

Sweden Democrats lose power in their flagship municipality
Social Democrat politician Birgit Birgersson Brorsson, who will now be mayor, and Moderate politicians Kith Mårtensson and Bengt-Åke Karlsson. Photo: Magnus Lejhall/TT

Kith Mårtensson, the group leader of the local Moderates, said her party had decided to switch allegiance and instead form a coalition with the Social Democrats, Centre, and Sol parties, after a “severe worsening in the climate of dialogue” between their party and the Sweden Democrats. 

The far-right party, which first won control of the municipality after the 2018 election, managed to increase its share of the vote by nearly 10 percentage points in September, giving the party a total 39 percent of the vote. 

However, Mårtensson said that the far-right party’s success had made them impossible to deal with in negotiations. 

“Unfortunately, after their election success, the Sweden Democrats’ top leaders lost all humility and cut away all the Moderates’ chance of having any influence at all. We didn’t see this as a coalition, but more like Sweden Democrat rule with our support.” 

Louise Erixon, who has served as the town’s Sweden Democrat mayor since 2018 and who is Åkesson’s ex-partner and the mother of his children, said she was “totally flabbergasted” by the news, which she said had “taken her by surprise”. 

She said it was “a betrayal of voters”, and that the Moderates’ only motive was to protect the jobs and salaries of their councillors, which the Sweden Democrats had wanted to reduce to reflect the Moderates’ reduced share of the vote. 

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“The only things they’ve cared about have been the well-paid posts and their personal incomes,” she said of the post-election talks. 

After the decision to go into coalition with the Social Democrats, Moderates in the municipality have complained of receiving a deluge of threats online, by mail, and on the telephone. 

“The weekend has been horrific,” Mårtensson told SVT. “People are ringing my private number and screaming that I should “burn in hell”. 

Jörgen Martinsson, another Moderate local politician said there had been a “hail storm of hate” against Moderate politicians over the weekend. 

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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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