Opposition hits back at Swedish PM: ‘Alliance is still the biggest’

The leader of Sweden’s centre-right Moderate party pledged once again to oust the country’s prime minister Stefan Löfven after the final result of last week's election was confirmed on Sunday.

Opposition hits back at Swedish PM: 'Alliance is still the biggest'
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson during an election debate on Sweden's state broadcaster SVT. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT
“If Stefan Löfven and the government do not resign voluntarily we are going to vote for them to be unseated once the parliament returns,” Ulf Kristersson said in a written comment sent to the TT newswire. 
He questioned Löfven’s claim to lead the bloc with the “greatest support in parliament”. 
“The final result if now complete, and the Alliance continues to be the biggest potential government, significantly larger than the current government,” he said. “If Stefan Löfven wants to try and build a government out of his ‘bloc’, together with the Left Party and the Green Party, he should say it in black and white.” 
The final vote count left the allocation of seats unchanged, with 144 seats shared by the Social Democrats, Green Party and Left Party, 143 going to the four centre-right Alliance parties, and 62 seats to the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats. 
This means both sides are well short of the 175 seats needed to have a majority. 
Löfven was the first to comment once the final tally was announced, arguing that as the largest party leading the largest parliamentary grouping, the Social Democrats should lead Sweden's next government. 
“The final election result shows that we Social Democrats are clearly the largest party and have the biggest support for a government if the right-wing parties do not break their promise and create a common bloc with the Sweden Democrats,” he said. 
There was, he reiterated, only one “constructive solution for the good of the country: to break with bloc politics”.
“Now all upstanding parties must take their responsibility to push Sweden forward,” he said. “In this process, no one is going to manage to achieve their party's policy program in its entirety. But through cooperation we can do so much more for our country.” 
While the four centre-right parties ruled Sweden as a tightly coordinated bloc between 2006 and 2014, the Social Democrats have never entered into coalition with the Left Party, and have only gone into coalition with the Green Party once, from 2014-2018.
Aron Etzler, the party secretary for the Left Party on Sunday said his party would be willing to take part in a Social Democrat-led government. 
“We are open to taking part in a government and for negotiating over the budget,” he told the Aftonbladet newspaper. “Without the success of the Left Party, Stefan Löfven would be in no position to make a claim to be prime minister.” 
Kristersson has been pushing Löfven to resign as prime minister since the night of the election last Sunday. 
On Wednesday, the four Alliance parties invited the Social Democrats to join them in talks over a deal across the political centre.
The aim was form a government which did not require the support of the Sweden Democrats, a party which the leaders of Sweden’s other political parties has said they will not negotiate or do deals with . 
“The Alliance is offering the Social Democrats the possibility of playing a new, constructive role,” Centre Party leader Annie Lööf told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper after the Alliance leaders’ joint article was published. 
Löfven immediately rebuffed the office. 
“The Social Democrats are being offered the chance of being a support party for the right-wing bloc,” he said. “That is a thought that should be completely dismissed.” 
Sweden's parliament is set to open on September 25th. 

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Lombardy candidate backtracks over claim that migration threatens Italy’s ‘white race’

Attilio Fontana, the leading candidate to govern Italy’s most populous region, says he made a slip of the tongue when he claimed that migration threatened to wipe out “our white race”.

Lombardy candidate backtracks over claim that migration threatens Italy’s ‘white race’
A Northern League supporter in Milan. Photo: Paco Serinelli/AFP

Fontana, a member of the far-right Northern League who is running for president of Lombardy with the backing of a centre-right coalition, made the comments to his party’s official radio station on Sunday.

“We can’t take in everyone here, because if we did the social and ethnic reality would no longer be us,” Fontana said during a lengthy discussion on migration.

“Because there are many more of them than us and they are much more determined to occupy this country. It isn’t a question of being xenophobic or racist, but being logical or rational. […]

“We have to decide if our ethnicity, if our white race, if our society should continue to exist or if it should be wiped out.”

Hear Fontana's full interview above.

As opponents condemned his comments, Fontana on Monday put them down to a “slip of the tongue”, insisting he meant to say that Italy should rethink its migration policies to protect “our history and our society”.

The head of the Northern League, Matteo Salvini, defended Fontana, claiming that Italy was under threat from an “invasion” and “Islamization” that – he maintained – had nothing to do with skin colour.

Fontana’s main rival for the presidency of Lombardy, centre-left candidate Giorgio Gori, urged voters to reject “hysteria and demagoguery” when they go to the polls on March 4th, the same day as Italy’s general election.

“There are those who talk of pitchforks and a white race. We’re talking about training, jobs, growth, Europe. You choose,” he tweeted.

The Northern League is currently waging its most ambitious general election campaign to date as part of a conservative coalition with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party and the far-right Brothers of Italy.

Though Salvini has dropped or diluted some of the party’s most extreme talking points – such as northern secession or quitting the euro – in a bid to make it more palatable to a national audience, he has maintained its hardline stance against immigration.

The leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), Luigi Di Maio, suggested that Fontana’s comments revealed the true nature of the League and its coalition partners.

“Berlusconi says that we’re worse than post-communists, that they’re moderates and we’re extremists,” Di Maio said. “If they’re moderates then I’m Gandhi.”

 Attilio Fontana. Photo: Associazione Amici di Piero Chiara/Wikimedia Commons

Fontana began his campaign just last week, after the sitting president of Lombardy, fellow Northern League member Roberto Maroni, unexpectedly announced his withdrawal from the race. Maroni, considered a moderate by League standards, cited political differences with Salvini.

Lombardy, the region containing Milan, is one of the League’s biggest strongholds. The latest poll, conducted before Fontana made his remarks, put him in first place to win the regional election with 42 percent, ahead of Gori with 37 percent.