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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Sweden Democrats threaten government crisis over biofuels obligation

The far-right Sweden Democrats are threatening to push Sweden's three-party ruling coalition into a political crisis as they fail to reach agreement over how drastically to cut the country's biofuels obligation, a key part in its plan to reduce emissions.

Sweden Democrats threaten government crisis over biofuels obligation

The party is claiming that a pledge in the Tidö Agreement calling for the biofuels obligation, or reduktionsplikt, to be cut to the “lowest EU level”, should mean that the amount of biofuels that must be blended into petrol and diesel and Sweden should be cut to close to zero, rather than to about half the current share, as suggested by ongoing EU negotiations. 

“We are being tough in the negotiations because of the power we have as the biggest party in this bloc,” Oscar Sjöstedt, the party’s finance spokesperson told TV4. “There is going to be a change at the end of the year that is going to be pretty significant and substantial, that I’m 99.9 percent certain about, otherwise we will have a government crisis.” 

The Liberal Party is pushing for a much less severe reduction, perhaps to a little more than half the current level, where 30.5 percent of all petrol and diesel must be biofuel. 

“We have signed up to a temporary reduction in the biofuels obligation, and it’s clear that that is what we are going to do, but zero is not an alternative for us,” the Liberal Party’s leader Johan Pehrson told TV4.

The decision to reduce the amount of biofuel in the mix at Swedish pumps has made it much more difficult for Sweden to meet its targets for emissions reductions, putting pressure on Pehrson’s colleague, Environment Minister Romina Pourmokhtari. 

Next Wednesday, Pourmokhtari will have to defend the extent to which her government’s policies have pushed Sweden away from being able to meet its 2045 target of net zero emissions when the The Swedish Climate Policy Council reports on the country’s progress towards its target.