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Will Sweden’s right-bloc meet the deadline to strike a government deal?

Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson is due to submit his report to the Speaker on coalition talks at 11am on Wednesday and it looks like the parties are still divided. Will he need an extension and is a deal possible?

Will Sweden's right-bloc meet the deadline to strike a government deal?
A police car parked outside Tidö Slott near Västerås, where the leaders of the right-wing bloc were negotiating over the weekend. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

How well are the talks going? 

Kristersson has from the start underlined the constructive approach taken by all parties, and the four parties have for the most part managed to keep leaks, anonymous briefing, and public disputes under control with still very little known about the detail of the discussions. 

Nicholas Aylott, associate professor of politics at Stockholm’s Södertörn University, said that this suggested that the four parties were managing to negotiate calmly. 

“I think if the negotiations had really hit trouble, then we would probably have got some inkling of it,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine that they would have kept real problems quiet.” 

What’s the sticking point? 

The big difference in opinion seems to be between the far-right Sweden Democrats and the Liberals.

The Liberal Party’s parliamentary group leader Mats Persson broke silence on Tuesday to state publicly that his party still expected to have ministerial posts in the new government. 

A source in the Sweden Democrats last week told Sweden’s state broadcaster SR that the far-right party did not want the Liberals included in the new government. 

According to Dagens Nyheter, SD leader Jimmie Åkesson has been meeting Liberal leader Johan Pehrson in person to try to overcome the deadlock. 

“What probably remains uncertain is whether the Liberals will be in the government, and there I think it really could go either way,” Aylott said. 

“I think if I had to put money on only one outcome, it would be that the Liberals are out, but I can quite imagine a scenario in which they’re in, and the Sweden Democrats show what a mature and stable and trustworthy party they are by accepting it. It’s not inconceivable.” 

So will there be a deal by Wednesday? 

With a month now gone since the election, Kristersson’s government-building talks are already the second-longest since Sweden brought in universal suffrage in 1921. His rhetoric during the election campaign, that the parties in Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson’s left-wing bloc were divided while his right-wing bloc were united, already looks tarnished. 

But it looks far from clear that he will be able to visit Andreas Norlén, the Speaker, with a deal in hand. 

Persson on Tuesday said his party was willing to extend talks past the deadline of this Wednesday if it is necessary for it to achieve this goal.

“We’re in no hurry. The most important thing is that this will be good for Sweden,” he said.

Aylott argues that while it might be embarrassing for Kristersson to ask Norlén for an extension on Wednesday, he did not think it was impossible. 

“I’m cautious about that because it may require a little bit more time, and I don’t get the impression that they they feel overly stressed to meet that deadline,” he said. “If it requires another another few days or a week, then it’s something that I think everybody can live with. They could well be done in time. But if they’re not, it’s perhaps not such a sensation.”

Are the Liberals in a position to make demands?
While the Liberals are the smallest party in the new parliament with only 16 seats, Aylott argues that they are “not entirely without leverage”, given that they hold enough seats to grant or deny Kristersson’s government a majority. 

“What they could do is threaten to cause trouble from outside the government and do deals with other constellations of parties on particular issues in a sort of imprecise, unspecified way,” he said. “That is something that gives them a little bit of bargaining strength.” 

More crucially, without the Liberals’ support, Kristersson cannot pass a vote as prime minister. 

Aylott, however, said he thought it was highly unlikely that the Liberals would be willing to switch sides at the last moment and instead reinstate outgoing Social Democrat Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson. 

“If they hadn’t already changed their minds twice over the last few years, then that threat might be a bit more credible,” he said, “but to swing back leftwards, again, after all the agonies that the party has been through, and particularly after the most recent switchback, which may well have saved the party’s parliamentary seats, I think is not really very credible.” 

So how much do the Liberals want that ministerial seat? 

That’s the question that really gets to the heart of it,” Aylott said. “I can see two ways of reasoning. One way is for the party to think, ‘well, maybe it’s not so important for us, because we can exercise influence without shouldering the burdens and the responsibilities of office. And in some ways, that might be quite an advantageous position.”

“But what the Liberals really need above all else is visibility. They need to consolidate their electoral support. They just don’t have enough votes to be confident of staying at the centre of Swedish politics.”

“And a prerequisite for doing that really, is to become visible, to have people who get the media’s attention in the coverage of everyday politics. And if you’re in the government, of course, that makes it considerably easier.” 

In addition, throughout the election campaign, Johan Pehrson positioned himself as Sweden’s next education minister, meaning he may be loath to see someone else in the role. 

“He would certainly like that position, because education has been such a strong issue for the Liberals. Under [former leader Jan] Björklund it was really the education party, so to try to reclaim that policy area for the Liberals, I think, has has obvious attractions. So that might just persuade Pehrson to play a little bit harder.” 

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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