Centre Party ‘ready to join Social Democrat-led government’

Sweden's Centre Party would consider minister roles in a Social Democrat-led government, the party's leader, Annie Lööf, said on Monday, firmly positioning her party in the left bloc.

Centre Party 'ready to join Social Democrat-led government'
The Centre Party leader Annie Lööf has expressed interest in co-governing Sweden with the Social Democrats. Photo: Ali Lorestani/TT

In an interview with newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN), Lööf said that Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson was her clear choice as prime ministerial candidate in the election. 

“I believe Magdalena Andersson has the leadership needed,” she said, citing the current prime minister’s “noticeably better openness for cooperation,” than her rival, Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson. 

Lööf underlined the fact that her support was conditional on “policy anchored in the centre”, and that her party would not support a government that included the Left Party, and would not engage in “organised budget cooperation” with the Left Party. 

When DN asked if this also meant the Centre would be open to governmental positions, Lööf said that the party “would like to be in government with the Social Democrats,” but that this was “presuming policy leans towards the centre”.

Lööf’s decision to set out her position was welcomed by Andersson, who said that “Sweden and Swedish politics needs fewer locked positions and not more”. 

But it was met with criticism from both inside her party, from the opposition, and from the Left Party. 

“We are putting ourselves forward in this election as an independent liberal party and should support which alternative can carry out the most Centre Party politics,” the party’s youth wing wrote on Twitter. “A centre-right liberal party should always hold the door open for several government alternatives.” 

Nooshi Dadgostar, leader of the Left Party, said the decision was “strange”. 

“She seems to be asking for our support to sit in a government without being willing to cooperate with us,” she said. “In that way, it’s strange. the Social Democrats and the Centre Party do not have a majority on their own.” 

In the interview, Lööf was highly critical of the direction the Moderate Party, with whom the Centre Party ruled for eight years, had taken. 


“Unfortunately, we see that the Moderates, Christian Democrats and the Liberal Party have all drifted to the right and deepened their cooperation with the Sweden Democrats,” she said. “This is extremely unfortunate. It is the first time since the arrival of democracy that the right-wing parties are working together with a xenophobic party and standing for election together.” 

However, even though she said Kristersson would have to cut his party’s ties to the Sweden Democrat for her to support him as a prime ministerial candidate, she said she did not rule out working together with her previous allies on the other side of the political divide.

“We are open to continued collaboration over bloc boundaries,” she said. “But that’s conditional on the future prime minister being receptive to where the political majority is located.”

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Sweden’s tradition of giving gifts to send off departing party leaders

A spa day for two, a science experiment kit, a promise of home-made pizza, a book on nationalism, and another on Stockholm walks. Sweden's party leaders on Wednesday engaged in the age-old tradition of seeing off departing colleagues with gifts.

Sweden's tradition of giving gifts to send off departing party leaders

After 11 years in the job, Centre Party leader Annie Lööf was given a moving farewell at her last party leader debate in the Riksdag, with kind words coming from colleagues you might have assumed were personal as well as political adversaries.

“Person in power to person in power, elected leader to elected leader, woman to woman, but perhaps most of all mother to mother, I hope from the very centre of my heart that when all the dust has settled that it was worth it, that we together made the road a little wider for our daughters,” Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch said, close to tears. 

Her party gave Lööf a donation to the charity Min Stora Dag, while she, herself, promised a dinner together where the two could “eat well and drink well”. 

Centre Party leader Annie Lööf and Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Lööf’s response was surprisingly warm, a reminder perhaps of the two years when the two were on the same side of bloc politics, thanking Busch for her friendship. 

“I am extremely thankful for the friendship, Ebba, for the fact that we were both able to talk together about the demands of politics, about sleepless nights, about periods of vabbing as the parents of small children,” she said.  

Busch, she said, was someone who always came up with “that little bit extra”, a new mobile phone case, sticky buns for fika, adding that she had even arranged a baby shower for her, with a cake made of nappies. 

According to Carina Larsson, the head of press at The Riksdag Administration, the tradition of giving departing leaders presents goes back some time. 

“It has been a tradition for at least the last ten years to have a farewell ceremony when a party leader goes,” she told The Local. 

Outgoing Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, for instance, was gifted a spicy chilli sausage by Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson, which came from a small town in Blekinge, Åkesson’s home county. 

The ceremony is little different to those held at any other workplace when an employee moves on, with small, witty gifts, and short, heartfelt speeches.

On one hand, it’s quite striking the extent to which politicians you are used to seeing at loggerheads either have, or at least pretend to have, friendly private relationships. 

The difference of course is that politics never stops, so the gifts chosen are all designed to make a certain point or give a certain impression. 

Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar, whose party Lööf refused to negotiate with, gave her a spa day in Nacka. One the face of it, it’s a suitable present for two women, but Dadgostar’s speech had a slight sting in its tail. 

“I want to give you a spa day in Nacka, for two, and you don’t need to take me with you. I hope you manage to get a bit of a rest,” she said. 

“I think you decide that you and I should go,” Lööf smiled back. “I look forward to having a spa with you.”

The present that came from Jimmie Åkesson, Lööf’s longstanding opponent, was a book, Nationalstaten, or The Nation State, by Björn Östbring, sent a fairly clumsy message.

The Sweden Democrat gift to Annie Lööf was the book Nationalstaten by Björn Östbring. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

The book argues that the culture war between liberals and nationalists can be overcome by looking back to the long-forgotten ideology of Liberal Nationalism. 

Lööf thanked Åkesson for the “conversations and laughter we have had”. 

“He can formulate a pretty punchy SMS, and I haven’t always been angry with him,” she joked.  

The point where Lööf came closest to a cutting comment, though, was when Johan Pehrson, the Liberal Party leader who agreed to the rather illiberal Tidö Agreement, offered her home-made pizza, and pointed out that while he had been party leader for eleven months, she had managed eleven years. 

“My God it’s tough, all the demands and expectations, everything you need to give up,” he said. 

“My advice,” Lööf responded, “is to be yourself”.

Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson gave Lööf a children’s experiment kit from Alga “as a symbol of faith in progress”. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Magdalena Andersson, the leader of the Social Democrats, offered her a book called Barnfamiljernas friluftsguide, a guide to outdoor life around Stockholm for families, and also promised to show her own “favourite place for a barbecue, so long as you don’t tell anyone”. 

Annie Lööf and Magdalena Andersson. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT