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Sweden Elects: What happens if the right wing fails to form a government?

The Local's editor Emma Löfgren explains the key events to keep an eye on in Swedish politics this week.

Sweden Elects: What happens if the right wing fails to form a government?
Will the Moderates' party leader Ulf Kristersson manage to cobble together a government? Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT


It’s been a month since his right-wing bloc beat the left bloc by three seats, and Sweden’s presumptive next prime minister is conspicuously quiet.

Ulf Kristersson’s Wednesday deadline for producing a viable potential government in his next meeting with the speaker of parliament (who will then put that to a vote in parliament) is looming closer and closer.

But so far, there’s been little sign of a breakthrough in negotiations between the right-wing parties (which of course doesn’t mean that it isn’t forthcoming; the party leaders could just be uncharacteristically quiet).

Kristersson wrote on Facebook last Wednesday that “negotiations between the Moderates, Sweden Democrats, Christian Democrats and Liberals remain constructive and are progressing according to plan – but also, nothing is done until it’s all done”. One might however wonder if the slower-than-expected talks do not indicate a slight snag in the plan.

He’s still within deadline for now and won’t have to show his cards until Wednesday, but Swedish media report that the four parties are finding it difficult to retrieve the common ground on which they campaigned.

Sweden’s public radio broadcaster’s news programme Ekot reports that the Liberals are insistent on getting ministerial portfolios in a Moderate-Christian Democrat-Liberal government, but the Sweden Democrats are equally insistent on not allowing their liberal nemesis-or-partners-it’s-not-really-clear to be in government. We can’t have it, so you can’t either.

Why is Kristersson digging his heels in for the Liberals, the smallest party in parliament? Well, since the margins are so tight, even the Liberals’ 16 seats are important. The party is split on whether or not it’s happy to be part of the same bloc as the Sweden Democrats, and being elevated to government status will make it easier to keep their members in line. The last thing Kristersson needs is for rebelling Liberals to vote against him.

The Dagens Nyheter newspaper reports that another point of contention that has emerged is the question of whether the Sweden Democrats should be allowed to have some of their party officials based in the government building rather than the parliament building.

The benefit for the Sweden Democrats would be shorter routes to liaising with the government; those who oppose it would argue that working from the government offices is traditionally reserved for, well, the government.

So what happens if Kristersson does not manage to bring these four parties together in time for his next meeting with the speaker this week?

The speaker then has three choices. He could extend the deadline, or pick a new person to try to cobble together a government (I wouldn’t want the job, but you’d better believe the outgoing Social Democrat Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson is waiting in the wings), or put Kristersson to a vote in parliament to at least give him a fair shot at success or humiliation.

Those of you who were around for Sweden’s record-long government formation in 2018 (which took 134 days, so there’s an argument that I should stop complaining and give Kristersson a break) may remember this, but the speaker has four shots at putting a prime ministerial candidate to a vote in parliament.

If no one is successful, a snap election must be held within three months. Hey, at least I would get to keep writing this newsletter, and we’re all having a lot of fun together, aren’t we!

A candidate passes a prime ministerial vote by having no more than 175 votes against them, so abstentions effectively count as votes in favour.

Even if Kristersson fails and the baton gets passed to Andersson, would she be able to form a left-wing coalition with enough support from parliament? As Swedes would say, nja. Her current allies in the Left, Centre and Green parties don’t hold enough seats, so the only way she’d win majority support is if the Liberals shuffle awkwardly back across the aisle to join the left, and that’s a dance they may have done too many times.

What about Jimmie Åkesson, whose Sweden Democrats are the largest party on the right? Good luck.

Anyway. The other interpretation of the silence from the right-wing bloc is that talks are in fact progressing well, which I base on the reasoning that there would be a lot more backstabbing in the media if they weren’t.

We’ll know in two days, if not sooner.

Best wishes,


Sweden Elects is a weekly column by Editor Emma Löfgren looking at the big talking points and issues in the Swedish election race. Members of The Local Sweden can sign up to receive the column as a newsletter in their email inbox each week. Just click on this “newsletters” option or visit the menu bar.

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For members


Why did Sweden’s emissions drop in 2023 – and what’s in store for the future?

Sweden's greenhouse gas emissions fell by two percent last year, but the good news may be short-lived.

Why did Sweden's emissions drop in 2023 – and what's in store for the future?

In 2023, the Scandinavian country’s emissions amounted to 44.2 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, a drop of about one tonne from 2022, according to preliminary statistics, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement.

The two percent decrease was in line with a 1.6 percent drop announced by Statistics Sweden in late May.

The EPA said the 2023 figure represented a decrease of 38 percent from 1990.

The EPA attributed the year-on-year drop primarily to lower emissions from industry – in particular the cement, iron and steel industries, due to lower production as a result of Sweden’s economic recession – and the electric and district heating sector, due to lower electricity prices.

“Emissions have continued to decrease, not least in industry and electric and district heating, which form part of the EU’s emissions trading system,” Anna-Karin Nyström, the head of the EPA’s climate target division said.

“The pace has slowed compared to the year before, when above all domestic transport and (fuel-based) work machinery contributed to a sharp reduction.”

But in March, an independent panel of experts tasked with reviewing climate policy said the government’s plans would lead to short-term emissions increases in 2024 and knock it off-course from its 2030 reduction target.

The Swedish Climate Policy Council, said in the March report that “policy adopted in 2023 will increase emissions and does not lead towards the fulfilment of Sweden’s climate goals and EU commitments by 2030”.

The council said several measures, such as a reduced fuel tax, put climate ambitions at risk.

But it also lamented a lack of concrete measures in the government’s “climate policy action plan”, a roadmap that the government is required by law to present every four years.

Sweden’s Minister for Climate and the Environment Romina Pourmokhtari said she was “not particularly worried” about the review’s assessments.

“They are based on the government’s policy announcements during 2023, and there are several measures that have been added since then,” Pourmokhtari said.