First meeting between Sweden Democrats and Moderate Party leaders

The leader of Sweden's centre-right Moderate Party has had a meeting with Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Åkesson, despite saying only a year ago that he would never work with the party.

First meeting between Sweden Democrats and Moderate Party leaders
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson, left, shakes hands with Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson during a parliamentary debate. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

In a post on his Facebook page, Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson said he met Åkesson “in order to discuss a number of important issues for the country, where our parties have similar views”.

According to Kristersson, the pair had a “constructive conversation” related to the areas of crime, energy supply, and immigration.

He said that he and Åkesson discussed the recent wave of gang-related murders in Sweden, but also the role that nuclear energy could play in Sweden in the future.

In his Facebook post, the Moderate leader reiterated a statement he made at the party's annual conference in October, when he said he would do all he could to find broad support in parliament “for a better policy”, and would not wait until the next election.

Åkesson wrote in a statement that the meeting was “rewarding, constructive, and bodes well for future collaboration in a new political landscape”.

The September 2019 election was followed by months of deadlock after neither of the traditional blocs reached a clear majority, and disagreements within the centre-right bloc on whether they would accept Sweden Democrat support led to the disintegration of the former four-party Alliance.

“The Moderates and Sweden Democrats are different parties, with different ideologies, and we think differently on several issues. However, we treat each other with respect, and on several important matters we think the same way. On these issues, I would, of course, want us to be able to cooperate in Parliament,” Kristersson wrote on Wednesday.

This is quite a contrast with statements he made previously on the idea of collaboration with the anti-immigration party.

As recently as January 2018, Kristersson said: “My values are not the Sweden Democrats'. I will not work together with them, speak with them, govern with them.”

The leader of the Christian Democrats, which has traditionally been allied with the Moderate Party, has previously held one-on-one meetings with the Sweden Democrats leader. 

The news of the Moderate-Sweden Democrat meeting comes after a new opinion poll suggested that the latter party had reached a record high, with support around 22.6 percent, which would make them the second largest party.

The same survey showed that a potential conservative bloc made up of the Moderates, Christian Democrats and Sweden Democrats would be almost equal to the bloc involved in the current governing deal plus the Left Party, whose support is required for them to have the numbers to govern. The former grouping gets 47.5 percent and the latter 50.9 percent.

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Swedish opposition leader: ‘We are agreed enough on the big issues’

Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson kicked off his party's election campaign on Thursday, with a speech that presented himself as the only candidate backed by a coalition of parties with a common programme.

Swedish opposition leader: 'We are agreed enough on the big issues'

In a speech in front of four hundred Moderate party members in the city of Norrköping, Kristersson said that unlike ruling the Social Democrats, his party was backed by three other parties that were agreed on enough to get necessary reforms enacted in government. 

“We have slowly but surely built a team on our side of politics which is ready and has both the will and the ability,” he said. “Four different parties which are not agreed on everything, but which are sufficiently agreed on the big issues to together get results.” 

He reiterated the praise he had given to the populist Sweden Democrats party in his speech at the Almedalen political festival at the start of July. 

“No other party has warned as consistently as the Sweden Democrats that Sweden cannot continue to increase immigration if we want to handle the problems with integration,” he said. “And that’s something I appreciate.” 

He praised the Christian Democrats for their focus on healthcare and elderly care, and welcomed back the Liberals, saying he was glad they had “found their way home to the political right”. 

READ ALSO: Swedish opposition leader: This election is about cash in people’s wallets

He stressed, however, that the Moderates’ decision in the autumn of 2019 to work with all political parties, including the Sweden Democrats had been “pragmatic but not at all without principle”. 

“On the contrary,” he said. “We have strong values which we do not compromise on.” 

He dismissed Social Democrat claims that Moderate warnings that they will bring back Sweden’s property tax were “disinformation”, pointing out that Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist had also called it “disinformation” when Kristersson predicted that the Social Democrats would change their policy towards joining the Nato Alliance.

He claimed that the Social Democrats in Stockholm wanted to bring back the property tax, as did The Swedish Trade Union Confederation, the Social Democrats’ youth organisation, the Left Party, and the Green Party. 

Let’s all take a bet on what would happen if the Social Democrats become dependent on the Left Party and the Green Party after the election,” he said. “Then they’ll bring in the property tax. Elisabeth Svantesson [the Moderates’ finance spokesperson] is right. You can’t trust the Social Democrats.” 

In the speech, Kristersson tried to give a more positive spin on the campaign, talking about how once the party takes power they will focusing on “building a Sweden to be proud of again”.  

With the left and right political blocks nearly equal in size at the start of the campaign, Kristersson said there was still everything to fight for. 

“This is an extremely good starting point,” he said. “Victory is within reach, but it is absolutely not yet won!”