Sunday’s election was very close, perhaps by one vote, and we won’t know the final results until Thursday, but the leader of the Moderates, Ulf Christerson, has already begun negotiations on the shape of the next coalition government. All this despite the fact that the current Prime Minister Magdalena Anderson’s Social Democrats have become the clear winners.
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In Sweden, although there are many parties in parliament, the minimum entry into parliament is only four percent, but in principle two blocs are competing with each other, the right and the left, and the first seems to have succeeded this time. Anderson, or rather its smaller coalition partners, has been mired by the effects of Covid, the energy crisis, and possibly other factors.
There is a catch
However, the right-wing bloc will come to power this time only under conditions that it was previously unwilling to achieve. He will have to take the Swedish Democrats on board, which until now was considered sacrilege in Swedish politics. This was due to her neo-Nazi roots, as well as her willingness to talk about issues of immigration and integration before other parties found it acceptable.
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Back in 2018, after the last election, the head of the moderate party announced that he would not make a coalition agreement with the Swedish Democrats under any circumstances. This time, he did not want to block his way to power.
In fact, over several years he had been developing relations with representatives of the Swedish Democrats and preparing the public to accept the party among other democratic formations. The move he had made upon forming the government had actually been well rehearsed a long time ago.
At the same time, the head of the Swedish Democrats, Jimmy Okesson, did everything in his power to calm the edges of opposition to his party. According to some, he did everything he could to distance himself from the Swedish Democrats’ neo-Nazi past.
The general atmosphere in Sweden also changed – the left narrowly lost, but the Swedes themselves began to talk openly about the problem of gangs in the suburbs. Those who voted for right-wing parties did so knowing that they, in turn, would cooperate with the Swedish Democrats – and, by the way, they themselves got one in five voters, more than Kristerson’s moderates. It is also generally true that a portion of the electorate has moved from the more moderate right-wing parties to the former far right.
But the situation is not so far off that the head of the Swedish Democrats, Jimmy Okesson, can claim the prime minister’s seat, but he may have high demands on Kristersson. So now it will be a question of how high the rise of the Swedish Democrats is.
The moderates and another coalition partner, the Christian Democrats, are reconciled with the Swedish Democrats’ share of power. It is said that part of the liberals, that is, another part of the right-wing bloc, still has trouble with this move. There are various options, from the direct participation of the Swedish Democrats in government, to the possibility that this party will support the government only in Parliament.
For this, he will gain influence on the government’s agenda and thus come closer to power and begin to be considered one of the other right-wing parties. So it will depend on how much Christerson, who desperately wants to become prime minister, is willing to back down.
If the Swedish Democrats stay out of government, the government will be de facto in the minority, but this is not unusual in Sweden. Anderson headed a government that had only a hundred votes out of 349 in Parliament. But for the prime minister, this always means a lot of effort negotiating compromises, but that’s part of Swedish political and social culture.
One thing is for sure, this year Sweden will enter a new era not only in terms of foreign policy, due to its accession to NATO, but it has also broken a long-standing domestic political taboo.
The author is commenting on Czech Radio
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