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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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Sweden’s emissions to rise as budget relaxes green targets to fight inflation

Sweden's government conceded that greenhouse gas emissions would rise in the short term as a result of budget decisions, but insisted they would fall in the long term.

Sweden's emissions to rise as budget relaxes green targets to fight inflation

The conservative administration, run by the Moderates and backed by far-right Sweden Democrats (SD), announced that greenhouse gas emissions would increase by 2030, at least in part owing to heightened tax relief on fuels.

Stockholm wants to reduce fuel and diesel taxes to ease price rises, which peaked last December at 12 percent year-on-year and have hammered Swedes’ purchasing power.

“Following decisions taken between July 1st, 2022 and July 1st, 2023, emissions are expected to increase by 5.9 to 9.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2) by 2030, but decrease long term by 1.8 million tonnes by 2045,” according to the draft budget.

Transport emissions notably are set to rise by 3.6 MtCO2 to 6.5 MtCO2 by 2030.

The government said it would not be possible to achieve transport objectives as the reduction in fuel tax notably “contributes to an increase in their consumption, an increase in traffic and a delayed electrification” of on-road vehicles.


The slashing of those taxes will shrink contributions to the Swedish treasury by around 6.5 billion kronor or some $600,000.

“It will be cheaper to refuel your car,” said Oscar Sjöstedt, an SD lawmaker who helped to draft the budget. The party “will continue to work for a reduction in fuel taxes”, he added.

Sweden has fixed a target of reaching net zero by 2045, five years ahead of an EU target.

“Sweden will pursue an ambitious and effective climate policy which will make it possible to achieve climate objectives,” Climate Minister Romina Pourmokhtari told Dagens Nyheter.

But Green lawmaker Janine Alm Ericson said the budget comprised “a catastrophe for the climate”.


Greenpeace also criticised the budget as appearing to under prioritise the greening of the economy.

Anna König Jerlmyr, former Stockholm mayor for the Moderates, also criticised the budget for “falling short” in the field of climate.

“We must work to reduce emissions in Sweden, not increase them,” she wrote in a LinkedIn post. “Totally opposite the goals of the Paris agreement.”

Sweden’s independent Climate Policy Council earlier this year criticised the government for policies which it predicted would at least in the short term raise rather than cut emissions.

Article by AFP’s Etienne Fontaine