Could Centre Party leader Annie Lööf get Sweden a government?

Centre Party leader Annie Lööf will be the next person to lead exploratory coalition talks – after incumbent Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson both failed to form a government.

Could Centre Party leader Annie Lööf get Sweden a government?
Centre Party leader Annie Lööf. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Parliamentary speaker Andreas Norlén on Thursday appointed Lööf as the next sonderingsperson, giving her one week to break the deadlock between the parties. He said it was possible the deadline could be extended.

“It is a task I have accepted. I understand that it will be difficult and I have taken it on with great humility,” Lööf told press on Thursday afternoon.

Lööf, who leads Sweden's fourth largest party with only 31 seats in parliament, will not necessarily become prime minister, and she does not consider it her “primary focus” to take on the role, Norlén told press after making the announcement.

But after both Löfven and Kristersson failed to gain enough support for their governments, Lööf is possibly seen as centrist enough for both the left and right wings to be willing to negotiate with her. The speaker said that the Centre Party had been mentioned as part of “several possible government constellations” in talks so far.

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Norlén would also not comment on when the next potential vote on a prime ministerial candidate would happen, after Kristersson's proposal of a centre-right government comprising the Moderates and Christian Democrats was voted down on Wednesday.

“There will be one or more votes this autumn,” he said.

There is no set deadline by which Sweden must form a government, but the number of prime ministerial votes that can be held before a snap election is automatically called is capped at four. Three of these chances remain after Kristersson was not accepted by parliament, and the country is now in untested waters — previously, parliament had always accepted the first candidate to be proposed.

Speaking on Thursday, Norlén reiterated that he did not want a second election, but added that this could not be ruled out if the parties failed to reach a compromise.

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Russia threatens ‘countermeasures’ over Sweden’s Nato membership

Russia vowed 'countermeasures' over Sweden's entry into Nato, in a message from its Stockholm embassy.

Russia threatens 'countermeasures' over Sweden's Nato membership

Sweden on Monday cleared the final hurdle to become the 32nd member of the alliance, when last holdout Hungary’s parliament ratified the Nordic country’s membership.

“Russia will take countermeasures of a political and military-technical nature in order to minimise threats to its national security,” the embassy said in a post on Telegram.

It added that their “concrete content” would depend on the extent of Sweden’s integration into Nato, “including the possible deployment in this country of Nato troops, military assets and weapons”.

Sweden dropped two centuries of military non-alignment in applying for Nato membership alongside Finland in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“It is a sovereign matter for Sweden to choose its security policy. At the same time, the country’s entry into a military alliance hostile to Russia will have negative consequences for stability in Northern Europe and around the Baltic Sea, which remains our common area,” the Russian embassy said in its post.

It stressed that the Baltic would never be a “Nato lake” as some observers have dubbed it. Sweden’s accession means that all the countries bordering the Baltic Sea, except Russia, are now Nato members.

It’s not the first time Moscow has threatened “political and military-technical” measures in response to Nato enlargement, which it also did when Finland last year joined the alliance.

Experts have previously interpreted it as for example moving military units and infrastructure, and increasing military exercises.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on Wednesday played down Russia’s comments.

“It is well known that Russia doesn’t like that Sweden or Finland become Nato members, but we choose our own paths,” he told Swedish news agency TT.