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Swedish Moderates make coalition deal, anti-immigration party to back new govt

Economy Oct 14, 2022 07:12AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Sweden's Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson holds a news conference after meeting with the Speaker of the Parliament Andreas Norlen at today's Speaker's round, to appoint a prime minister who will be tasked to form a new government, in Stoc

By Anna Ringstrom and Simon Johnson

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -The leader of Sweden's Moderates, Ulf Kristersson, said on Friday he aimed to form a three-party minority government with support from the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats after the right-wing bloc won a majority in last month's election.

The new government plans to cut taxes, begin the process for building new nuclear power plants, cap benefits, tighten immigration rules and give police more powers as part of a policy deal with the Sweden Democrats.

"Change is not only necessary, change is also possible, and we four parties together can offer that change," Kristersson, 58, told reporters .

Now Sweden's largest right-wing party, the Sweden Democrats' ability to shape policy marks a huge shift in politics and would have been unthinkable less then a decade ago.

Then, no party would have anything to do with the Sweden Democrats, which has its historical roots in the white supremacist fringe.

But leader Jimmie Akesson's message that most of Sweden's ills are a result of decades of over-generous immigration policies and a failure to integrate "new Swedes" has struck a chord with voters, making it all but impossible for the right-wing bloc to govern without his party's support.

"For us in the Sweden Democrats... a change of power also has to mean a paradigm shift regarding immigration and integration policy," Akesson told the news conference.

The new government will make it harder for new immigrants to get benefits while the overseas aid target of 1% of gross national income will be replaced by a fixed sum.

Police will be able to take tougher measures against criminal gangs and sentences for gang crimes will be longer.

TROUBLE AHEAD?

Kristersson will face a confirmation vote on Monday which he is almost certain to pass.

But his party's junior status could make governing over the next four years extremely difficult.

He will have to rely on both the Sweden Democrats and Liberals, who disagree strongly on many policies. Either could pull the plug on Kristersson's government.

Measures to address climate change need to be thrashed and holes in the welfare system exposed by the pandemic need to be plugged. A planned surge in defence spending has to be financed.

Sweden is in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis and could be heading for recession next year, while Russia's war in Ukraine has destabilised the Baltic region - Sweden's backyard. Turkey could still block Sweden's application to join NATO.

In the election on Sept. 11, the right-wing bloc secured a slim majority, winning 176 seats in the 349-member parliament.

The Sweden Democrats won 20.5% of the vote in September, against 19.1% for the Moderates.

Swedish Moderates make coalition deal, anti-immigration party to back new govt
 

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