Politics For Members

Who is the new leader of Sweden's Centre Party and why is it important?

Becky Waterton
Becky Waterton - [email protected]
Who is the new leader of Sweden's Centre Party and why is it important?
Muharrem Demirok sitting by a sign reading "our new party leader" at a debate for party leader candidates in November. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

In a press conference on Wednesday, Sweden's Centre Party announced that Muharrem Demirok, MP and former deputy mayor of Linköping, will take over from leader Annie Lööf following a party conference vote in February.


Who is Muharrem Demirok?

Demirok was born in 1976 in Stockholm and grew up in Vårby Gård in Huddinge, southeast Stockholm. He now lives in Linköping, a city in southern Sweden roughly halfway between Stockholm and Gothenburg, with his wife, his three children and his dog, Allan. He has a political science degree from Linköping University.

He was elected to the Swedish parliament in the 2022 election. Prior to this, he was deputy mayor of Linköping.

Demirok joined the Centre Party in 2002, and has stated that "an important reason for this was the Centre Party's policy for rural areas and for the whole of Sweden".

He describes himself as a lover of nature, especially forests, citing this as one reason behind his interest for the environment. He has also said that his Turkish family were farmers who taught him that "those who use the earth also respect it".


His party leader candidacy has not been without controversy.

In December 2022 he admitted of his own accord that he had been convicted of assault on two occasions. The first occurred at the age of 17 in 1994 when he got into a fight with another student at school, and the other in 1999 at a student party in Linköping. On the first occasion he was ordered to pay a fine, and on the second occasion he was ordered to complete 40 hours of community service.

Why is the new Centre Party leader important?

“It matters because in a sense the Centre Party holds the balance of power," The Local's James Savage explained in our Sweden in Focus podcast discussing the potential leadership candidates.

LISTEN: The Local's panelists chat about the Centre Party leadership contest in the Sweden in Focus podcast:

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If, for example, the Centre Party chose to side with the centre-right government instead of the Social Democrats, that would give the government a stronger mandate and greater flexibility.

"Conversely, if the Social Democrats were to lose the support of the Centre Party, then that would make it much harder for [the Social Democrats] to form a government in the immediate or medium term," he explained.

Having said that, neither Demirok nor any of the other candidates have said anything to suggest that they will make any changes to the party's orientation.

When will he take over from Annie Lööf?

Demirok is not formally leader yet, rather Wednesday's announcement just means that he has been chosen as the favoured candidate of the party's election committee.

He will be formally voted in as party leader at a conference on February 2nd. In theory party members could vote for someone else, but in practice it is always the candidate suggested by the election committee who wins.


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